Civil Rights Commission: Argent Mortgage discriminated against blacks


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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