Angelo Mozilo, Countrywide Financial’s former CEO, dies at 84

(Reuters) -Angelo Mozilo, who propelled Countrywide Financial Corp into the largest U.S. mortgage lender before its crash in the 2008 financial crisis, has died, his family foundation said.

Mozilo, 84, died of natural causes, the foundation said in a statement on Sunday.

He became the face of the mortgage meltdown when the subprime crisis surfaced in 2007. He was the son of a Bronx butcher who embodied a rags-to-riches success story.

In 2006, when Mozilo was the chief of the mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, the firm originated $461 billion worth of loans — close to $41 billion of which were subprime. Subprime loans were responsible for the global financial crisis.

The firm was later bought by Bank of America for $2.5 billion, less than 10% of what it was worth in early 2007.

Mozilo was also charged by securities regulators of insider trading and securities fraud. Once named as one of the best chief executives in the United States, the disgraced CEO was subsequently named as the second worst U.S. chief executive of all time by Conde Nast Portfolio.

Bloomberg earlier reported news of Mozilo’s death.

Mozilo had defended himself several times against accusations that he was a key architect of the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

“Somehow, for some unknown reason, I got blamed for it,” he earlier said.

(Reporting by Shubhendu Deshmukh in Bengaluru and Nupur Anand in New York, Editing by Franklin Paul and Deepa Babington)