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CEO gives up $40M payout

  • Story Highlights
  • Mozilo heavily criticized over the lucrative payout
  • CEO will keep retirement benefits and compensation worth $40 million
  • Countrywide bought by Bank of America for $4.1 billion earlier this month
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From CNN's Cheryl Robinson
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Countrywide Financial Corp. CEO Angelo Mozilo will give up $37.5 million in severance pay, fees and perks he was eligible to collect upon his retirement from the troubled mortgage lender.

California-based Countrywide was bought by Bank of America for $4.1 billion last month.

Mozilo has been heavily criticized for the lucrative payout he could receive after the sale of Countrywide to Bank of America.

In a statement released early Monday, Mozilo explained that his focus "is to do what is in the best interests of Countrywide employees, customers and shareholders."

Despite the multi-million-dollar gesture, Mozilo will still walk away a rich man. He will keep his retirement benefits and deferred compensation, totaling more than $40 million, a recent proxy statement said, according to Associated Press.

For now, he remains a substantial stockholder and an employee of Countrywide.

Mozilo's employment agreement with Countrywide entitled him to $36.4 million in cash severance and $400,000 a year in consulting fees, in addition to the use of a private airplane and other amenities.

"I believe this decision is the right thing to do as Countrywide works toward the successful completion of the merger with Bank of America," Mozilo said in the statement.

Countrywide, based in Calabasas, Calif., agreed earlier this month to be acquired by Bank of America for $4.1 billion.

Once the country's largest mortgage lender, Countrywide is facing a financial crisis caused by rising mortgage defaults, namely subprime loans to borrowers with spotty credit histories.

In a statement earlier this month, Sen. Charles Schumer called on Mozilo to help people that were in jeopardy of losing their homes because of subprime loans.

"Mr. Mozilo could display some goodwill by donating any severance pay he stands to receive to the nonprofit housing counselors trying to prevent foreclosures," Schumer said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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