An article by Portfolio.com picks up where an earlier Wall Street Journal story left off in investigating which politicians got breaks on mortgages from Countrywide.
Among those named is North Dakota Democratic Senator Kent Conrad. Portfolio.com claims that under Countrywide's "VIP" program, Sen. Conrad was considered an "FOA"--Friend of Angelo, referring to Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo.
The article claims Conrad got a $1 million re-fi in 2004 and Mozilo instructed subordinates to knock a point off the loan, worth about $10,000. It also claims Countrywide violated it own policy--at Mozilo's urging--in providing a second loan to Conrad to re-fi an apartment building in North Dakota. These could be seen as gifts which violate the $100 limit under Senate ethics rules.
Senator Conrad is fuming.
While the article quotes him saying he never met Mozilo, he's released a statement saying “It badly misrepresents my experience in getting these loans. I never asked for, expected or was aware of any special treatment. And I certainly did not know—until this article—that I was placed in any program that gave preferential rates or waived fees. To leave the impression that I did is a complete lie."
Conrad says he applied to Countrywide with 20 percent down and spotless credit and had no idea how his loans were being classified.
"I was offered financing on basically the same terms from another lender," Conrad goes on. "Contrary to the article, I also paid thousands of dollars in mortgage fees. I never met Angelo Mozilo. And in my role as a United States Senator, I have never done anything for Countrywide."
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