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Bank of America subpoenaed in inquiry into Countrywide VIP program

Representative Darrell Issa’s investigation targets officials who may have received sweetheart deals. Representative Darrell Issa’s investigation targets officials who may have received sweetheart deals.
By Philip Rucker
Washington Post / February 18, 2011

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WASHINGTON — Representative Darrell Issa, the House’s newly empowered chief whistleblower, has issued his first subpoena.

The chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a wide-ranging subpoena Wednesday to Bank of America for documents, e-mails, and names related to Countrywide Financial’s VIP and Friends of Angelo Program.

Issa’s probe of the defunct lender’s controversial home loan program is an attempt to expose all lawmakers or other government officials who might have received sweetheart deals from the firm. The subpoena to Bank of America, which now owns Countrywide, marks a significant expansion of an investigation into Countrywide launched in the preceding Democrat-controlled Congress.

“Countrywide orchestrated a deliberate and calculated effort to use relationships with people in high places in order to manipulate public policy and further their bottom line to the detriment of the American taxpayers even at the expense of its own lending standards,’’ Issa, a California Republican, said in a statement.

“This subpoena will allow us to obtain the information needed to answer the outstanding public interest questions regarding the full size and scope of the VIP program.’’

Dan Frahm, senior vice president at Bank of America, said the company would comply with Issa’s request.

“Upon acquiring Countrywide in July 2008, Bank of America immediately discontinued Countrywide’s ‘VIP Loan Program,’ ’’ Frahm said in a statement. “Bank of America has never had such a program. While we place the highest priority on keeping customer data confidential, we are obliged by Congress to respond to this subpoena.’’

Countrywide’s VIP program came under scrutiny following reports that then-Senator Christopher Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, and Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, received mortgages from the company.

The Senate Ethics Committee found that neither senator violated any rules.