Arnall has a blind son who lives in Pico/Robertson and claims to be a rabbi. His smicha (ordination) is more suspicious than Gabe Elias’s (Mogen David).
LOS ANGELES — Ameriquest Mortgage founder Roland Arnall, a billionaire who became a symbol of the struggling sub-prime lending industry he helped create, died Monday at UCLA Medical Center, his family said. He was 68.
The cause was cancer, family spokeswoman Lisa Cohen said.
The Paris-born Arnall once sold flowers on the street corners of Los Angeles but over the years built a real estate and financial services fortune that transformed him into one of the nation’s wealthiest individuals.
A major Republican financier with ties to President Bush, he was appointed ambassador to the Netherlands in 2006 after an approval process that was slowed by unsettled issues regarding Ameriquest, the California-based lending company Arnall founded in 1979.
Arnall stepped down from his ambassadorship this month, saying he planned to return to the U.S. and assist his son, who was diagnosed in 2006 with Hodgkins Disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes.
"Thank you for the trust you placed in me, and the opportunity to serve our country," Arnall wrote to President Bush in a letter in February.
Ameriquest, which saw its fortunes soar during the housing boom by lending to people with less than stellar credit, became another victim of a mortgage crisis that left bankrupt companies and cash-strapped borrowers in its wake. The remnants of the company were sold to Citigroup Inc. last year.
Once the nation’s largest sub-prime mortgage lender, the company was shadowed by accusations that it engaged in improper practices that included lying about borrowers’ income to qualify them for loans they couldn’t afford.
Civil lawsuits by consumers in California and other states claimed a pattern of fraud, falsification of documents, bait-and-switch sales tactics and other violations.
In 2006, parent company ACC Capital Holdings Corp. agreed to pay $325 million to settle investigations into its practices. ACC did not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the deal. Arnall founded ACC and was its chairman until October 2005.