No. 2 of The Subprime 25: Ameriquest Mortgage Co./ACC Capital Holdings Corp.

By

 Updated:

Total high-interest loans 2005-2007:

At least $80.6 billion

Federal bailout money received:

None

Company overview

  • Status: CLOSED. Argent and AMC were sold to Citigroup Inc. on Aug. 31, 2007.
  • History: Created in 1979 by Roland Arnall, Ameriquest — “sponsor of the American dream” — began as Long Beach Savings & Loan, a California-based thrift, and became a pure mortgage lender in 1994. Arnall was a major contributor to President George W. Bush as well as the Democratic Party and served as Bush’s ambassador to the Netherlands from 2006 until 2008, shortly before his death. Ameriquest spent lavishly on advertising, including naming rights to the Texas Rangers baseball park. In May 2006, Ameriquest was among the first in the subprime industry to show signs of collapse. The lender stopped making loans in August of 2007.
  • Parent/subsidiary companies: ACC Capital Holdings (parent); Argent Mortgage Co., Town & Country Credit Corp., AMC Mortgage Services (subsidiaries of ACC).
  • CEO: Founder/co-chairman: Roland Arnall (deceased)
    • Most recent salary: Not available
  • Location: Orange, California
  • Year founded: 1979
  • Backers: Underwriters of Ameriquest's asset-backed securities included Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank, UBS Securities, Citigroup, Greenwich Capital Markets (part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group), Credit Suisse First Boston, and Banc of America, the investment banking subsidiary of Bank of America.

Lobbying overview

  • Lobbying: 2003-2008: Ameriquest and its parent company reported $60,000 in lobbying expenditures. But lobbying firms working for the companies reported $960,000 in expenditures. **
  • Total Contributions: At least $3,713,788 *
  • Top Recipients:
    1. Democratic National Committee $1,576,250
    2. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee $540,000
    3. George W. Bush $263,600
    4. Democratic Governors Association $220,708
    5. Democratic Majority 2002 Nonfederal $210,000

Investigations

  • Settlements:
    • In 1996, the company paid $4 million to settle charges by the Justice Department that its brokers charged higher fees to women, the elderly and minorities.
    • In 2000, it agreed to make $360 million in low-interest loans available following a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission that claimed the company misled poor and minority borrowers about interest rates and fees.
    • In 2005, the company agreed to pay more than $7 million to settle Connecticut Department of Banking allegations that it charged excessive refinancing fees.
    • In 2006, Ameriquest and its parent company agreed to a $325 million settlement with the District of Columbia and 49 states to settle claims that it had misled borrowers, falsified documents, and pressured appraisers to inflate home values.

** Lobbying totals calculated by the Center for Public Integrity using data from the Senate Office of Public Records.

* Contribution grand total includes employee and soft money contributions from the lender and its subsidiaries. Top recipient totals include employee and political action committee contributions. Data provided by CQ Money Line, analysis by the Center for Public Integrity.

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