The bad business of 'Friends of Angelo'

By Marcie Geffner - Inman News

Quick quiz: Which mortgage company chieftain took home $140 million in compensation last year while the company he founded lost $704 million?

If you said Angelo R. Mozilo, CEO of Countrywide Financial Corp., take a bow. And add a couple of gold stars if you knew Mozilo's pay was comprised of more than $120 million from exercised stock options and more than $22 million in other compensation, according to a Reuters' report based on the mortgage company's year-end filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Set aside the stock options, and the astonishing disconnect between Mozilo's star-quality compensation and the company's horrific performance could nonetheless suggest why Mozilo decided it was OK to arrange some special insider deals on home mortgages for an assortment of people dubbed "Friends of Angelo." Yet while this disconnect may serve as an ego-booster and explanation, it's by no means an acceptable excuse for Mozilo's sorry moral judgment and misuse of his own position within the company.

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