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DOES BANK OF AMERICA REALLY CARE ABOUT SMALL BUSINESSES? THINK NOT!

on Jan 14 in Blog, Home Page Blog posted by

Myles Minns Broker Owner of Real Estate Universe and multiple other companies feels something needs to be done in respect to Bank Of America’s treatment of small businesses and longtime clients. Read his letter to the chairmen of the board of BOA and feel free to express your comments:

January 12, 2009

Mr. Brian T. Moynihan, CEO and President
Mr. Walter E. Massey, Chairman of the Board
c/o Corporate Secretary
Bank of America Corporation
101 South Tryon Street
NC1-002-29-01
Charlotte, NC 28255

Dear Sirs and Madams:

I am writing this letter to express my utter shock and awe with Bank of America?s treatment of me and my companies over the past year. I have been a small business customer of Bank of America for twenty years and always enjoyed a good working relationship with Bank of America. As my business grew I stayed loyal to Bank of America and felt like I had a “partner” in them as I became more successful. I started out with a small real estate company and expanded to almost twenty companies encompassing not only real estate brokerage but a mortgage company, title insurance company, real estate school and other property holding entities.

Bank of America was happy to have my accounts when real estate times were good and money was plentiful. They especially seemed to enjoy the vast amounts that went through my title insurance company’s escrow accounts. They were also happy to lend me money to purchase additional commercial real estate to expand my business. Mind you, every one of these transactions was cross-collateralized and personally guaranteed by me to the point that the guaranty paperwork alone was astounding whenever I received a loan secured by real property.

When the real estate market worsened and times became lean, I adapted and worked my tail off to keep my doors open. I made hard decisions and laid off many good workers, I sold assets, I took in tenants in my commercial buildings and I adjusted my thinking in any way possible so that I could keep cash flow coming in the door and pay my obligations on time.

When the market first worsened, I had 10 commercial secured loans, 3 residential secured loans and 3 business unsecured lines of credit with Bank of America. I worked hard and managed to pay off 4 of the commercial loans and 2 of the residential loans and kept every payment due on every other obligation I had to Bank of America current. Not once was I ever late with a payment.

How did Bank of America respond? The harder I worked the bigger of a bully they became. Bully is the only word which can accurately describe this institution.

Just as the real estate market was beginning to turn and I thought I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, Bank of America became my worst nightmare. The first intense pressure came early last year to pay off the unsecured business lines of credit. These were lines of credit that I had had in place for years and were used mainly when I needed help covering payroll. Not once was I ever late with a payment. Despite this, I received letters and threatening telephone calls demanding that they be paid off immediately at the same time Bank of America was receiving taxpayers? TARP funds which I believe were designed to help banks make loans to small businesses so that small businesses could keep their doors open and continue to employ their workers. What a sham. I was strong armed into shelling out $300,000.00 and closing my lines of credit.

One would think that having the number of secured loans cut down by almost half and all unsecured loans paid off would have been enough for Bank of America to leave me alone and let me try and run my businesses in peace but it wasn’t.

I have received constant demands for my personal and company financial statements on such a regular basis that it has become a full time job just trying to keep up with providing Bank of America the paperwork they so much desire. They are literally hounding me for financial statements before I have even received the necessary bank statements to reconcile the period they are asking for.

Several months ago, I received a telephone call from two Bank of America executives that I can only describe as something that felt like and was perceived by me as something very close to extortion or blackmail. This call was to inform me that despite all of my payments on my real estate loans being current and my being a ?perfect? customer, the loan to value on the properties on which Bank of America held mortgages has risen due to the county property appraiser lowering the values of the properties. I am sure this is a common problem across
America. This increased loan to value was through no fault of mine and most of my loans were originally taken out at a loan to value of 65% and I have plenty of my own funds invested in these properties. One of the properties is worth over a million dollars and my debt to Bank of America is $373,000.00. Bank of America never made me a loan that would have been considered risky.

The executives stated in this phone call that they knew I had excess liquid cash held at another institution and that they felt it was necessary for me to transfer some of that cash to Bank of America in order to protect Bank of America in case something happened to my ability to continue to make the payments on my loans. You can imagine my absolute astonishment and outrage during this call. As of today, I have refused to take any further calls from anyone at Bank of America because of my utter disgust after this conversation.

Now Bank of America has decided to order appraisals of the six properties which I still own that they are holding a mortgage on. To what end they would incur this type of expense I have no idea. Perhaps they are looking to strong arm me into paying these off also? As I have stated before, my payments on all of these loans are current and I have never been late, not once. And now I am supposed to cooperate with an appraiser to help Bank of America hold me hostage and possibly threaten these properties and their strong equity? Is the bank trying to promote problems for insiders to take over healthy loans or collateral?

I am a retired Palm Beach County firefighter who worked hard to build a business to support myself and my wife and my two children. I have weathered tough economic times and remained a loyal, paying customer to Bank of America. Bank of America?s current tactics, if they continue along the course of the past year, will force me to defend myself, my companies, my employees and my customers. Make no mistake about it. I will defend them just as I defended Palm Beach County families from fires. I will defend my business and personal family from this arsonist attitude. Some bankers seem to have forgotten that their business comes from working men and women, like me, that their money comes from the Federal Reserve, from taxpayers like me, and that their loans which are currently making them a profit during these difficult times despite past bad banking procedures came from people like me and companies like mine.

I have never been a dime short or a day late on any payment and God willing I will always keep these commitments. One of the reasons I am able to do this though, is that I remain very liquid. There is no way I would hand over cash to someone like Bank of America who appears to be struggling right now, in spite of what they say publically. A drowning company often will drag a small company down with them. Obviously there are problems with Bank of America that have not been made public, otherwise they would not feel the need to strong arm, strong honest clients.

You owe me a detailed written explanation after all the years we have been together and all the large profits you have made from my companies, my clients, and my family. If you fear for the solvency of your best customers, and seek to hold them hostage, then we should fear for your solvency. I need to know why I should continue to do business with you and why I should not advise my clients and contacts to sell their Bank America stock and run from business commitments with you.

I await your prompt response. Please give detailed and honest answers.

Sincerely,

Myles Minns
President

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