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SEC probing stock sales by Countrywide CEO

WASHINGTON — The Securities and Exchange Commission is examining sales of company stock by the chief executive of Countrywide Financial Corp., the nation's largest mortgage lender, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

The informal SEC inquiry of stock sales by CEO Angelo R. Mozilo has been under way for a while, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the probe has not been made public.

The inquiry was reported Wednesday afternoon by The Wall Street Journal.

Mozilo sold some $130 million in Countrywide stock in the first half of the year through a prearranged 10b51 trading plan. These plans allow a company insider to set up a program in advance for such transactions and proceed with them even if he or she comes into possession of material nonpublic information.

North Carolina's state treasurer last week asked the SEC to investigate Mozilo's stock sales.