With New Lender ‘Partnership’, UWM Teams Up Again With Scandal-Plagued Exec

United Wholesale Mortgage is no stranger to controversy. Both the company and its chief executive Mat Ishbia have made headlines over the years on issues ranging from the firm’s treatment of its employees to its notoriously aggressive attempts to stifle competition.

In fact, the company is currently engaged in legal battles on multiple fronts. It’s facing a class-action lawsuit over allegedly forcing employees to work overtime without compensation, and legal challenges to its attempts to force mortgage brokers to stop doing business with major competitors like Rocket Mortgage and Fairway Independent Mortgage.

Now Ishbia appears to be teaming up with one of the most controversial figures in his corporate past: Disgraced mortgage executive Anthony Casa.

In late 2020, Casa was embroiled in a scandal after sending graphic and profane messages targeting the wife of Quicken Loans Executive Vice President Austin Niemiec. Casa’s false claims about Niemiec’s wife performing sex acts on Ishbia in college were swiftly condemned as “repulsive” by industry leaders.

At the time, Casa was running the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME), which was heavily sponsored by Ishbia’s UWM. Casa was forced out of AIME by the scandal. However, Casa was back in the AIME spotlight less than a year later, headlining a company conference with UWM as its title sponsor.

Now Casa’s new venture UMortgage appears to be an Ishbia project, linked to the UWM exec in ways that go beyond mere friendly Facebook videos.

Ishbia recently appeared to confirm UWM’s partnership, to some extent, with the relatively new lender startup UMortgage, a Philadelphia-based company run by industry fixture Anthony Casa. In a November video address to one of UMortgage’s sales meetings, Ishbia repeatedly claimed United Wholesale Mortgage is a “partner” of UMortgage. “We’ve got your back,” Ishbia said, telling viewers: “I’m not your lender, I’m not your investor, I’m your partner.”

At RealClearPolicy, Jared Whitley writes UMortgage was established by consultant Suzanne Okun, who herself was affiliated with United Shore, the corporate predecessor to United Wholesale Mortgage. A law firm run by Ishbia’s father is also reportedly involved with UMortgage. The two companies, meanwhile, have considerable overlap within the ranks of their staff.

Whitley speculates that Ishbia may be “breaking into the loan origination space” in order to “compete with loan officers” he “purports to support.” There is as yet no direct evidence to support that contention.

The more likely scenario may be that United Wholesale Mortgage is simply consolidating another financial stream to add to its already-considerable income. UWM is consistently among the top mortgage lenders in the country both by purchase originations and total loan volume; Ishbia’s sunny optimism about the company’s future may very well indicate strong confidence in UWM’s own investments in the venture.

UWM did not respond to a request for comment regarding the partnership with Casa; UMortgage also did not respond to a request for comment on the partnership and the status of the lawsuit against Casa