Over the past year, "enormous efforts" have gone into preparations for the trial of Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo on insider trading and fraud charges scheduled for Tuesday, including "extensive depositions of the defendants and others," as well as, we're sure, an intensive personal tanning and grooming regimen for the man himself. Now, at the eleventh hour, the Wall Street Journal informs us that there may not be a trial, and that Mozilo is in settlement talks with the SEC, most likely because his lawyers fear whatever he says on the stand could lead to criminal charges. The question is: Will the SEC allow themselves to be placated with a boatload of Angelo's dirty cash? Or will they follow through and actually make an example of the first top financial-services executive to be charged in connection with the financial crisis? Oh, kidding, that's not the question. The question is: How much will the settlement be?
Update: And we have an answer: $67.5 million. A $22.5 million civil penalty, plus $45 million in disgorgement.