Mozilo co-founded Countrywide in 1969, and remained its CEO until 1 July 2008. During this time he built it into the largest mortgage lender in the U.S. It gained a reputation to offer mortgages to borrowers with a questionable ability to repay them, promoting the idea that almost every adult could get a mortgage to buy a house.
During its peak time Countryside was accused of overcharging 450,000 homeowners, as it was a vertically integrated mortgage machine, with an array of subsidiaries that provided in-house appraisals, property maintenance, insurance and other services, so it could mark up the costs of its services, sometimes by more than 100%.
In the wake of the housing bust, which toppled Countrywide and IndyMac Bank (another company Mozilo started), the executive’s lavish pay package was criticized by many, including Congress. Mozilo left Countrywide in 2008 after its rescue-sale to Bank of America at the cost of $4 billion, plus several more billion in fines and settlements with the government over mortgage abuses.
Mozilo told Federal Investigators in 2010 that “Countrywide was one of the greatest companies in the history of this country and probably made more difference to society, to the integrity of our society, than any company in America in the history of America”.
In 2016, federal prosecutors decided not to file a civil fraud case against him.