The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced fraud charges Thursday against Angelo Mozilo and two other former Countrywide Financial Corp. executives, alleging they hid from investors the severe credit risks the lender was taking.

The complaint — the highest-profile action against individuals since the start of the crisis — seeks more than $140 million of damages and charges Mozilo, the former chief executive, with insider trading for alleged stock sales before the lender's collapse.

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