Countrywide Financial Corp. chairman and chief executive Angelo Mozilo has defended his decision to sell $140 million worth of company stock over the past 14 months, noting that "I have almost all my personal net worth tied up in the company."In an interview with National Mortgage News, Mr. Mozilo -- who founded Countrywide in the late 1960s -- said he started the firm with his own money and has made tremendous profits for shareholders. "I have created $25 billion in value for the shareholders," he said. "It's been one of the best-performing stocks on the New York Stock Exchange. I gave them 98% of the value and took 2%. And they [the shareholders] didn't have to do the work. I did it for them." The 68-year-old executive has been criticized by financial columnists and shareholder activists for unloading such large blocks of stock at a time when the mortgage industry -- subprime in particular -- is cratering. Mr. Mozilo, though, has been exercising options, which have an expiration date, and then selling those shares. He said if he kept all the shares, he'd have to pay taxes on them. "These critics expect me to hold my shares forever?"

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the mortgage industry

30-Day Free Trial

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the mortgage industry