Bank Officer Describes Dodd, Conrad Deals to Oversight Panel Republicans
Following are excerpts from a partial transcript obtained by Roll Call of Countrywide Financial loan officer Robert Feinberg’s interview with members and staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Feinberg discussed “VIP— advantages that Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) allegedly enjoyed under a special Countrywide program. The two Senators have denied any wrongdoing and have said they did not initially know they were enrolled in a VIP program. Both Senators have said they believed any advantages under the program were available to the general public. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigator: What I was asking was whether this conversation with the Senator, where you said that you had won, was the only conversation they ever had? Or was it only conversation was previous property?Dodd and Conrad loan officer Robert Feinberg: Yeah, because previous to this I had not worked with him and he had gotten loans before, so I had not worked with him. And, actually, Amerigo worked with him quite a bit. Amerigo had left in mid — I could be wrong — I don’t have an exact date, but say mid- to late ’03. And you can see this is ’04, so I inherited anybody that was talking to him. And he talked quite a bit to Senator Conrad. I wasn’t real chatty with people. I was like moving on to the next one, because it’s like I said. You have to multi-task like crazy and you’re very busy. So I was more just trying to get through each call and get it finished, and get the loan on the books.OGR: And in your communications with Senator Conrad, whether the one phone call you identified or the e-mails you exchanged with his office, do you know whether he was aware that he was getting preferential treatment?Feinberg: Yes, he was aware.OGR: And why did you say that?Feinberg: By preferential treatment, I mean specifically the suite of advantages, whether he’s knocking the points off, knocking the junk fees. I have to preface it by that we were not allowed to tell anybody what the points were being waived, but we can tell everything else; and, any person, [a “Friend of Angelo”], VIP, whatever they were that was coming through there, it was always instilled in them to let them know their sense of importance of where they were. And that you are/were a friend of [then-Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo]. You were referred by Angelo. You were approved by Angelo.There were many different ways of saying it, so the discount was there and we would let them know. Now, if anyone really pushed on the rate what the discount was, we would have to give it off to say Doug, or a manager, basically, which would be Doug, and say, look: This person really wants to know what they’re getting. Also, as I stated earlier, when the loan comes out of the VIP processing unit, their business cards are stapled in loan packages. It says “VIP Supervisor,” “VIP Underwriter.” ************OGR: The one telephone call that you remember having with Senator Conrad was in relation to this eight-unit apartment building in Bismarck, North Dakota?Feinberg: Yeah, because I distinctly remember him telling me that not only was it an issue for the most part that it was a commercial loan, but also that he has two brothers on it. So now it [becomes] a rental property. There’s two family members on it. So at that time, that was really confusing. You know, in guidelines in terms of trying to structure something so I didn’t know what to do, because I never hadthat. I didn’t have somebody say, well, I want this, or I want an apartment building complex, a warehouse or something; and, again, you never said no. If there was a regular customer calling, and of course you say no, we’re a residential lender. We cannot provide you with that service. You’re going to have to speak with, you know, outside Countrywide, go find a bank or someone that could do it. In this case it wasn’t going to be a no. It was going to be let me find out, and that’s what you see [in] these e-mails. I’m finding out.OGR: So it was because he was afforded FOA, VIP treatment?Feinberg: Absolutely.OGR:Because he was a senator?Feinberg: I would say because he was an FOA. *********OGR: And do you know if during the course of your communications with Senator Dodd were his wife that you ever had an opportunity to share with them if they were getting special VIP treatment?Feinberg: Yes, yes.OGR: You did communicate that to him?Feinberg: Yes, yes. I mean, they’d already been there to begin with, so they knew. You know, once you’re basically in the VIP department you’re in. You know, you’re done. You don’t even have to really talk to Angelo if you don’t want to, because as I keep stating, you go back and you see somebody at the [Countrywide VIP processing unit], if you’re not sure who they are then you’ll talk to somebody. I may talk to Maritza. I may say do you know who this person [is]? Oh, yeah, we did their loan such and such a time, this many years ago, or whatever. Yeah, that’s a friend of Angelo’s. Okay, we’ll go with it. You might ask Doug or you might ask Stephen or somebody.