Civil Rights Commission: Argent Mortgage discriminated against blacks

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At the height of his predatory lending spree, Ameriquest chief Roland Arnall was appointed by President Bush to be the ambassador to the Netherlands.
When last we left Argent Mortgage Co. [“All the President’s Men,” October 19, 2005], the lender was screwing thousands of Clevelanders using a grab-bag of illegal practices. Argent’s rise in Ohio was swift. In a three-year period starting in 2003, it filed 11,000 loans in Cuyahoga County alone. Everything was so fabulous that Roland Arnall -- head of its parent company, Ameriquest -- was appointed by President Bush as ambassador to the Netherlands. But by 2007, the company’s deal with the Devil had run out: Argent went broke and was sold-off to CitiGroup… Now, it seems, Argent’s tactics weren’t just evil, they were also discriminatory. Yesterday, state Senator Shirley Smith (D-Cleveland) sent a letter to Attorney General Marc Dann in the wake of a ruling by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. In response to a complaint filed last April by Housing Advocates, the commission found that Argent targeted African-Americans with sub-prime loans they could not afford. Advocates has offered to settle with Argent for $7 million, with most of the money going toward a fund to help victim’s refinance. If Argent refuses, Dann’s office can file suit on Advocate’s behalf. – Caleb Hannan

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