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Utah attorney general details terms of settlement agreement with Ameriquest

Ameriquest Mortgage Company has agreed to pay $325 million to settle allegations of unlawful lending practices in Utah and at locations across the United States.

Ameriquest will pay $295 million to consumers and $30 million to 49 states participating in the settlement agreement, indicated Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.

An estimated $2 million will be earmarked for Utah, with $1,875,000 going to consumers residing in the state.

"In the face of serious and widespread allegations of unfair and deceptive practices, Ameriquest has agreed to take important steps to protect future borrowers," noted Shurtleff. "It's also important that Ameriquest is paying a substantial amount of money to help provide restitution to past customers."

The $325 million payment ranks as the second largest state or federal consumer protection settlement in history, pointed out the attorney general's office.

Law enforcement officials and regulators initiated investigations nationwide after receiving complaints from Ameriquest customers, pointed out the Utah Attorney General's Office.

The investigations purportedly uncovered several problems, including inadequate disclosure of prepayment penalties, discount points as well as loan terms and improperly influenced appraisals, added Shurtleff.

In the agreement, Ameriquest denies all allegations, but will adopt a battery of standards to prevent unfair and deceptive practices.

The settlement includes ACC Capital Holding Corporation and the lending firm's subsidiaries, Ameriquest Mortgage Company, Town and County Credit Corporation and AMC Mortgage Services Inc., formerly known as Bedford Home Loans.

An independent monitor will be appointed to ensure Ameriquest complies with the settlement for terms during the next five years.

A judge must approve the settlement before the agreement becomes final.

Consumers do not need to take any action to pursue recoveries under the settlement.

Consumers will be contacted later by a settlement administrator as soon as specific recovery terms and plans are determined.

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