Monday, October 28, 2013

Bharara successfully prosecutes Mairone?

On the front page of Saturday's NYT business section is an article about and photo of Rebecca Mairone, a former mid-level executive at Countrywide who was accused of running a system of fast tracking mortgage approvals that led to significant losses.  Her "crimes" occurred in 2007 and 2008 when the coming mortgage market debacle was still unclear to many.  Apparently she refused to settle whatever charges were leveled against her, went to trial, and the ever growing megalomaniac Preet Bharara, U.S. District Attorney for the southern district of New York, now knows that in this still difficult economic environment a jury of one's peers most of whom have little or no financial background is easy pickings for the prosecution.

Why the big deal about a mid-level executive, single mother of two, and the planted feature in the NYT.  It is by now completely obvious that Bharara is using the evil and unethical Eliot Spitzer template of pre-releasing information to the NYT for articles on to be announced events(Spitzer primarily used Charles Gasparino of the WSJ for his purposes).  But why the big deal about Mairone.  She is now employed by JPMorgan's mortgage division in a credible mid-level operational role, the hiring of which would have required considerable vetting.  Is her current relationship with JPM the reason for this focus.

The bigger question is what about the many big fish who swim along almost untouched while JPM and a mid-level executive are crushed by bad publicity and penalties.  JPM was never the leader in mortgage originations or securitizations.  At the bequest of the government during the dire days of the economic crisis, it acquired failing companies that were big in these areas.  But where are leaders of those companies.

Where is Kerry Killinger, the former Mr. Fun CEO of Washington Mutual who not only did not pay attention to or understand the management of his company but also had by far the worst strategic plan in the financial industry, blindly optimistic at all times, some might just say stupid.  Where is Jimmy Cayne, the former CEO of Bear Stearns who played a little golf but mostly bridge while he smoked pot as his company was collapsing.  What about the cocky Angelo Mazilo who would arrogantly brag in presentations about the dubious tactics being used by Countrywide to gain market share.  Where are Stanley O'Neal and Chuck Prince, respective CEO's of Merrill and Citi, who originated major amounts of securitizations of mortgage assets and were both naive enough to hold much of it on their own balance sheets.  Where is Herbert Sandler, who with his now deceased wife managed to sell Golden West(the actual inventors of the no down payment good faith mortgage product) to the delusional Ken Thompson of Wachovia with perfect timing. Wachovia later was required to be rescued by Wells Fargo.  Where is Dick Fuld?  Where is John Mack?  How has Lloyd Blankfein bought his name out of the spotlight?  Is everything falling on the shoulders of Jamie Dimon and JPM at the direction of the embarrassingly transparent vindictiveness of Barack and Michelle Obama and orchestrated by Eric Holder and Preet Bharara.

Oops, one could guess that this was getting too obvious.  Why not throw in a mid-level exec from Countywide.  One should note that she had supporters and detractors within Countrywide and many clients who had high praise for her work to refinance their mortgages and keep them in their homes.  Yet one of her inside detractors who she did not promote when he felt the deserved it served the role of "whistleblower" for Preet, and will receive an estimated $1.6 million award under that dubious program once sentencing is determined.

There is something perverse going on here.


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