Issa demands more details on VIP loans

Rep. Darrell Issa wants Bank of America to turn over tapes that may contain evidence of preferential loan treatment for VIPs.


Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Oversight and Goverment Reform Committee, wrote Bank of America on Monday, asking it to turn over tapes of a call recording and archival system it used that may provide insight into whether the bank's Countrywide Financial division gave preferential treatment to VIP borrowers.



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The Wall Street Journal reported on the existence of the taping mechanism (the "NICE System") on Sunday, prompting Issa to ask for any recordings, despite indications that the y may have been destroyed.

“The obvious investigative value of the taped material catalogued by the NICE system required Bank of America to preserve it when it acquired Countrywide,” Issa wrote to BofA CEO Ken Lewis. "The fact that recordings once existed but are not within the Bank’s possession and the Bank’s refusal to fully explain why this is the case raises important questions.”

The Senate Ethics Committee had cleared some key Democratic lawmakers in key positions, such as Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), for having allegedly received favorable deals on mortgages from Countrywide, an initial charge which prompted Republicans like Issa to probe the VIP loan program.

Bank of America has also been a long-standing target of Issa, who has probed the bank's acquisition of Merrill Lynch late last year, with the backing of the government.

Issa wrote to demand details about the Countrywide program and the recording system, wanting to know how any recordings were maintained and preserved, and whether or how they were destroyed.

“Any destruction of material relevant to such an investigation after the Bank’s acquisition of Countrywide would be reprehensible,” Issa said.