Faced with declining production and a changing retail landscape, Ameriquest Mortgage -- once the nation's largest subprime lender -- has closed its entire retail branch network, slashing 3,800 jobs in the process.News of the branch closings was first reported by MortgageWire on Tuesday afternoon. In total, 229 offices were shut. The company said four "regional production centers" will replace the branches. At deadline time, the privately held Ameriquest had not yet assigned a cost to the closings and job cuts. The spokesman declined to answer questions about the lender's production volumes and profitability. Ameriquest is a subsidiary of ACC Capital Holdings, which is controlled by businessman Roland Arnal. Mr. Arnal is currently serving as ambassador to the Netherlands. ACC also controls Argent Mortgage, a top-ranked subprime wholesaler. Ameriquest's spokesman said Argent is unaffected by the branch closings. ACC chief executive Aseem Mital said in a statement, "We are moving strategically and decisively to remain a leader in an industry that is undergoing fundamental changes." In January Ameriquest agreed to pay $325 million to settle claims with 49 states that the company engaged in abusive lending practices. ACC, the parent, promised to change some of its business practices, but without acknowledging any wrongdoing.

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