New Calls for a Countrywide VIP Program Investigation – But Nothing More
This should get interesting: some Republicans are calling for further investigations into the Countrywide VIP mortgage scandal, The Wall Street Journal reports. As you might recall, a Senate Ethics Committee probe last month cleared Sens. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.)., and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) regarding discounts on mortgages they received from the once high-flying subprime lender. The committee said the two senators didn’t violate any gift rules in accepting the discounts, but it admonished them for not taking more care to avoid the appearance of impropriety, The New York Times reported.
But that hasn’t ended the matter, according to The Journal:
The discovery that Countrywide Financial Corp. recorded phone conversations with borrowers in a controversial mortgage program that included public officials — and that those recordings have been destroyed — has prompted new congressional calls for more information about the program.
Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is trying to subpoena the remaining records of Countrywide’s VIP loan program.
If Countywide destroyed some records crucial to this case, it’s worth probing further. But it also raises the question — where are all the other investigations into the scandals of the subprime boom?
As Gillian Tett of the Financial Times pointed out recently, more than 1,000 savings and loan executives went to jail following that scandal in the late 1980s and 1990s. So far, convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff is the only high-profile fraudster behind bars, but that seems to be about it.
One reason why the Madoff drama has grabbed so much attention and already sparked a slew of books this month, is precisely because there are precious few other financiers behind bars, or facing momentous fines. Compared to the S&L days, the level of retribution so far seems almost non existent.
Here’s hoping the Republican lawmakers so zealous about their pursuit of the Countrywide VIP scandal apply that same enthusiasm to the rest of the financial mess. It’s something that, so far, just hasn’t happened.