Ameriquest Mortgage

Ameriquest Mortgage

Ameriquest was one of the United States's leading wholesale lenders. Ameriquest was founded in 1979, in Orange County, California, as a bank, Long Beach Savings & Loan. The bank moved to Orange County in 1991 and was converted to a pure mortgage lender in 1994, renamed "Long Beach Mortgage Co." In 1997, the wholesale part of the business (funding loans made by independent brokers) was spun off as a publicly traded company. Originally founded as a subsidiary corporation under the name Ameriquest Mortgage, it was now renamed Long Beach Mortgage, while the retail part of the business was renamed Ameriquest Capital and remained private. (In 1999, Washington Mutual purchased Long Beach Mortgage.) Ameriquest Mortgage was a private company held by ACC Capital Holdings, which was owned by Roland Arnall.

In 2005, Ameriquest Capital and three of its subsidiaries comprised four of the 53 entities that each contributed the maximum of $250,000 to the second inauguration of President George W. Bush. [cite news |title=Financing the inauguration |url=http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-01-16-inaugural-donors_x.htm |publisher=USA Today |date= |accessdate=2008-05-25 ] [cite news |title=Some question inaugural's multi-million price tag |url=http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-01-14-price_x.htm |publisher=USA Today |date=2005-01-14 |accessdate=2008-05-25 ] Writes USA Today, "Inaugural fundraisers Dawn and Roland Arnall found a creative way to pump more than the $250,000 limit into the event. Their mortgage firm, Ameriquest Capital, contributed the maximum, as did three subsidiaries, for a total of $1 million. The company declined to comment on its political giving." [cite news |first=Jim |last=Drinkard |title=Donors get good seats, great access this week |url=http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-01-16-inauguration-donors_x.htm |publisher=USA Today |date=2005-01-17 |accessdate=2008-05-25 ]

On August 31, 2007, Citigroup completed its acquisition of its wholesale origination lending unit Argent Mortgage, its servicing unit AMC Mortgage Services and shut down its retail lending unit Ameriquest Mortgage.

Ameriquest was among the first mortgage companies to use computers to search for prospective borrowers and to speed up the loan process.

Ameriquest was widely known in the United States. It advertised widely on television, had blimps that flew over football and baseball stadiums, and sponsored the Rolling Stones (2005 U.S. tour) and NASCAR drivers. Its ad slogan is "proud sponsor of the American dream."

The home stadium of the Texas Rangers was called Ameriquest Field until March 19, 2007, when in an undisclosed agreement between the two entities, Ameriquest relinquished the naming rights, and the stadium was renamed to the "Rangers Ballpark in Arlington".

Subprime lenders made $587 billion in new mortgages in 2004, up from $390 billion in 2003, according to National Mortgage News. Ameriquest's share of that is estimated at over $50 billion.

On August 31, 2007, ACC Capital Holdings announced that it was closing Ameriquest by no longer taking loans and selling its loan servicing unit to Citigroup.

Lawsuits

In 1996, the company agreed to pay $3 million into an "educational fund" to settle a Justice Department lawsuit accusing it of gouging and predatory lending practices against older, female, and minority borrowers. Prosecutors accused it of allowing mortgage brokers and its employees to charge these customers an additional fee of as much as 12% of the loan amount. As part of the settlement, Ameriquest (then still known as Long Beach Mortgage) agreed to use the educational fund to train its employees in proper mortgage techniques (training which most observers agree never actually occurred to any substantial degree), and to refrain from utilizing predatory lending techniques (such as "bicycling"), but only within the State of California. Shortly after entering into this settlement agreement, the company "switched" names with its subsidiary, and began aggressively seeking refinance mortgage business throughout the United States.

In 2001, after being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission, the company settled a dispute with ACORN, a national organization of community groups, promising to offer $360 million in low-cost loans.

On 1 August, 2005, Ameriquest announced that it would set aside $325 million to settle attorney-general investigations in 30 states. In at least five of those states—California, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Florida—Ameriquest had already settled multimillion-dollar suits.

In May 2006, Ameriquest Mortgage announced it was closing all of its retail offices, and in the future would make its loans through mortgage brokers, a channel that is not covered by the predatory-lending settlement with the Attorneys General.

On June 13th, 2007, lawyers for borrowers, who are seeking to combine 20 suits into one class action suit, asserted in a filing [Case 1:2007cv03325 Illinois Northern District Court Miller] in Illinois Northern District Court that "Assets of the Ameriquest entities were transferred to (the owner of Ameriquest) Arnall with the actual intent to hinder, delay, or defraud the plaintiffs in this action."

The issues confronted by companies like Ameriquest could be a major contributing factor to the rapid rise of Certified Mortgage Planners, certified industry experts that work in concert with Certified Financial Planners in harmonizing the home-finance products utilized by consumers with their larger financial portfolios.

Charity

Ameriquest has operated the Soaring Dreams Fund, which gives money to initiatives that help children. During the 2006 NASCAR Busch Series season, the fund was promoted on race cars, whose designs were picked in a contest.

External links

* [http://www.ameriquest.com/ Ameriquest website]
* [http://www.atg.wa.gov/releases/2006/rel_Ameriquest_012306.html Ameriquest $325 settlement press release with links to agreement and fact sheet]
* [http://www.clevescene.com/Issues/2005-10-19/news/feature.html "Meet the biggest predatory lender in Cleveland — America's new ambassador to the Netherlands.", Cleveland Scene magazine.]
* [http://www.forbes.com/lists/2005/54/02WT.html Forbes Magazine top 400 entry for Roland Arnall]
* [http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ameriquest4feb0405,1,5202756.story?ctrack=1&cset=true "Workers Say Lender Ran 'Boiler Rooms' ", Los Angeles Times, February 4, 2005]
* [http://boifromtroy.com/?p=5086 Attorneys general comment on their investigation of Ameriquest]
* [http://www.secinfo.com/$/Search.asp?Find=ameriquest SECInfo.com] Ameriquest SEC filings
* [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10165859 NPR: Former Ameriquest Workers Tell of Deception]
* [http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ameriquest1sep01,1,4514100.story?coll=la-headlines-business&track=crosspromo]

References

* http://www.oalj.dol.gov/Decisions/ALJ/SOX/2005/MCCLOSKEY_WILLIAM_JO_v_AMERIQUEST_MORTGAGE__2005SOX00093_(DEC_06_2005)_133749_CADEC_SD_files/css/MCCLOSKEY_WILLIAM_JO_v_AMERIQUEST_MORTGAGE__2005SOX00093_(DEC_06_2005)_133749_CADEC_SD.HTM
* http://www.oalj.dol.gov/PUBLIC/ARB/DECISIONS/ARB_DECISIONS/SOX/06_033.SOXP.HTM
* http://www.oalj.dol.gov/PUBLIC/ARB/DECISIONS/ARB_DECISIONS/SOX/06_033A.SOXP.HTM


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