Mortgage Lenders Network USA Inc. — which employs 1,800 people nationwide originating and servicing Alt-A and nonconforming mortgage loans — says it has stopped funding loans and accepting applications for new loans.

The Associated Press reports that telephone recordings at several MLN wholesale lending offices also say the lender is “exploring strategic alternatives” for its wholesale business lines. AP and Inman News were unable to reach company officials for further comment.

In a Dec. 8 statement, MLN President and Chief Executive Officer Mitch Heffernan sought to dispel rumors that the company was facing financial difficulties.

“MLN continues to operate its national lending business, actively accepting loan submissions and funding and servicing loan production,” Heffernan said, adding that the lender was continuing with plans to open a new corporate headquarters in Wallingford, Conn.

MLN broke ground on the new 305,000-square-foot national headquarters in May, in a ceremony attended by Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell, the company said in a press release at the time.

In September, MLN announced expansion plans in Phoenix, including a 180,000-square-foot office to open in the fall of 2007 and the addition of 650 jobs within three years. The company, founded in 1997, also had plans to expand in Atlanta and Philadelphia.

In recent weeks, several mortgage lenders have closed their doors when investors withdrew funding or demanded that they repurchase bad loans, including Ownit Mortgage Solutions Inc., Sebring Capital Partners and Harbourton Mortgage Investment Corp.

MLN has a six-year-old partnership with GMAC’s residential-mortgage arm, ResCap, through which GMAC provided a revolving line of credit and a committed warehouse lending facility.

A ResCap spokesman who in mid-December said the company continued to purchase loans and provide warehousing for MLN would not comment on the latest developments, AP reported.

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