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Public Meeting Transcripts

Public Meeting Regarding Fleet Financial Group, Inc., and BankBoston Corporation

Wednesday, July 7, 1999

Open Forum

       22            MS. SCHWARTZ:  Well, I would like to 
         23   address my brothers and sisters from the federal 
         24   community.  I'm with the U.S. Department of 
         25   Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency.  I 
          1   head the Boston District Office covering New England 
          2   and my brothers and sisters in the audience who are 
          3   left. 
          4            I had not originally planned to share 
          5   comments, because I had spoken at a community 
          6   hearing which Congressman Capuano and Senator 
          7   Wilkerson held at the Roxbury Community College.  
          8   But inasmuch as I reviewed the presentation agenda, 
          9   and because I was not absolutely sure that you would 
         10   incorporate the proceedings of that hearing within 
         11   your review, which I hope you will, I decided just 
         12   to share a few comments with you. 
         13            And this particularly responds to Pat 
         14   Cusick's comments about the sparsity of business- 
         15   related comments.  So, as Bruce was here, Honorable 
         16   Bruce Bolling, and I and some other folks, we're 
         17   advocates in the sense that the business community 
         18   folks, as you know, are out there earning a living, 
         19   or trying to, so they might not have been here in 
         20   large numbers. 
         21            I want to thank you all for finally 
         22   scheduling this meeting, because it's very, very 
         23   important, and I have faith in your sensitivity and 
         24   openness to hear the comments that we all are 
         25   making. 
          1            I would like to say, as you may or may not 
          2   know, that the Minority Business Development Agency 
          3   of the United States Department of Commerce is the 
          4   lead agency in the federal government for minority 
          5   business development.  And we are committed, having 
          6   survived 30 years, to the development of economic 
          7   parity for the minority communities in this nation. 
          8            And therefore, looking at this request or 
          9   proposal that you're reviewing, to consider allowing 
         10   the creation of the eighth largest bank in the 
         11   country, we are particularly concerned that the 
         12   minority business community be allowed an 
         13   opportunity for capital access, and in whatever is 
         14   created, not only in this bank, but in other 
         15   institutions. 
         16            As you know very well, the impact of this 
         17   proposal goes far beyond the New England area, and 
         18   I'm sure you're aware of that.  We've had some 
         19   testimony here from New York, New Jersey, and I 
         20   have -- I was away for a few hours, so I'm sure 
         21   there are other places that Fleet and BankBoston 
         22   impact.  So that becomes very important. 
         23            I would like to call your attention, when 
         24   you review the proceedings of that hearing that was 
         25   held at Roxbury Community College, to the 
          1   presentation by the district director of the Small 
          2   Business Administration for the Commonwealth of 
          3   Massachusetts.  She really laid out some very 
          4   important figures in terms of business lending, 
          5   lending to small businesses, in the history of these 
          6   two banks, and I think you might want to review that 
          7   in your considerations. 
          8            Now, I would like to say that the 
          9   cooperative agreement which is being proposed 
         10   between the financial institution, as you may 
         11   approve it as it's proposed, and various community 
         12   groups, is to be considered and respected, and I 
         13   surely deeply respect the position of the community 
         14   groups. 
         15            I would like to point out, however, that 
         16   I'm aware that in Philadelphia a very large bank 
         17   acquired another bank, and there was a commitment 
         18   made to the community groups about the maintenance 
         19   of neighborhood branches, and as soon as that bank 
         20   proposal was approved by the regulatory agencies, 
         21   those bank branches were totally eliminated.  At 
         22   least that's my information. 
         23            So what I'm really looking at is that it's 
         24   up to the Fed, if you'll forgive me using that 
         25   shorthand version, and the Department of Justice, 
          1   the Oversight Committees of the Congress.  I'm sure 
          2   you're aware from today's testimony and from other 
          3   things that our Congressional delegation in the 
          4   Commonwealth of Massachusetts is very concerned 
          5   about the outcome of this, and the fairness of it, 
          6   and I'm sure that's joined by Congressional people 
          7   who are involved in the banking committees from 
          8   across the country. 
          9            So I really think that the stipulations 
         10   that you would add on to any agreement to allow this 
         11   to happen that can be monitored by the regulatory 
         12   agencies would be extremely important, because of 
         13   the history of banks violating their commitments 
         14   that they've made to community groups. 
         15            I would also like to recommend to you very 
         16   strongly that you consider allowing the proposal of 
         17   the community-based banks such as Boston Bank of 
         18   Commerce to acquire a number of these branches. 
         19            As you know, I'm sure, over many, many 
         20   years, it's been the policy of the Federal 
         21   Government to nourish and support minority-owned 
         22   banks, and this would certainly be very important, 
         23   if you could create language in such a way to assure 
         24   that the community-based banks, as I say 
         25   particularly Boston Bank of Commerce, be allowed to 
          1   acquire these targeted divested branches or proposed 
          2   divested branches. 
          3            I guess that I would conclude with that, 
          4   and we're all, I'm sure, quite exhausted. 
          5            I have heard the proposal here from at 
          6   least two or three people to recommend to you that 
          7   you consider extending the comment period to allow 
          8   the proposed merging banks to very closely and 
          9   definitively make a proposal that can be reviewed 
         10   and hopefully would be fair and then allow for 
         11   comment period.  And I would like to support that, 
         12   if it's within the realm of your guidelines and 
         13   possibilities. 
         14            So I want to thank you for being willing to 
         15   listen to me.  I want to thank you for what I, as I 
         16   say, trust will be the openness of your 
         17   considerations, and I would say good evening. 
         18            HEARING OFFICER SMITH:  Thank you. 
         19            Do we have any other individuals who would 
         20   like to offer remarks? 
         21            Mr. Dennis Flynn?  
         22            MR. FLYNN:  First I would like to apologize 
         23   to the Board for my opening statement.  I would like 
         24   to thank all the panel members, not just the men 
         25   that are there.  I just said "sir" at the beginning. 
          1            I notice, going through the panel list, 
          2   that I seem to be the only veteran here.  I'm not 
          3   representing a veterans' group. 
          4            I just happen to have had a transaction 
          5   with Fleet Bank which involved a secured government 
          6   mortgage product that they have.  I was denied the 
          7   right to negotiate a favorable interest rate 
          8   according to the Veterans Administration guidelines.  
          9   Fleet Bank did not even take my application at the 
         10   time of the loan.  My mortgage consisted of 
         11   approximately 40 pages that were faxed, and these 
         12   were faxed after the closing date. 
         13            In processing the VA mortgage, they 
         14   violated their own internal guidelines, according to 
         15   their own documents.  They violated the Veterans 
         16   Administration's guidelines that I was to be allowed 
         17   to negotiate a favorable interest rate.  And quite 
         18   possibly, they violated federal law, but I'm not a 
         19   lawyer, I'm just someone who is trying to get a 
         20   house on the GI bill. 
         21            As I say in the statement, I'm just one 
         22   veteran to went to Fleet back to get a loan under 
         23   the GI bill, but am I the only one that has had this 
         24   type of experience with the Fleet Bank?  The Federal 
         25   Reserve, Veterans Administration and the veterans 
          1   population will never know unless you gentlemen and 
          2   ladies take the time to send these concerns to the 
          3   proper authorities. 
          4            Fleet had assured me that we would close on 
          5   a certain date, and in the middle of the closing, my 
          6   mortgage loan officer disappeared and never called 
          7   me anymore, and I had to call down to Rhode Island 
          8   and find someone who would assist me, and that's 
          9   where the 40 pages of faxed documents came from.  
         10   They had nothing on me, we were past the closing 
         11   date, and they left me in a very, very difficult 
         12   position. 
         13            I'm not a banker, I'm not a lawyer, and I 
         14   trusted Fleet to do the right thing, to do what they 
         15   said they would.  And it left my family and myself 
         16   in a very, very difficult position.  I know that in 
         17   the age of deregulation there are less and less 
         18   people out there to regulate what the banks are 
         19   doing. 
         20            It's my concern that, from my experience, 
         21   Fleet is too big right now.  I couldn't imagine it 
         22   getting any bigger and trying to negotiate the 
         23   things that I had to, to try to secure housing for 
         24   my family. 
         25            I would like to thank you for the time, and 
          1   I think I am the last one.  Thanks very much. 
          2            MR. ALVAREZ:  Mr. Flynn, I have a question 
          3   for you.  Do you know which of the Fleet entities 
          4   you filed your original application with?  Was it 
          5   the Fleet Bank in Massachusetts?
          6            MR. FLYNN:  Yes, it was the Fleet Bank in 
          7   Worcester.  I went through the Worcester office, and 
          8   then again none of the paperwork was ever filed with 
          9   the people in Rhode Island that needed to process 
         10   the loan.  And, again, all my financial statements, 
         11   everything had to be faxed to the people that 
         12   processed the loan. 
         13            And the thing that troubled me and troubled 
         14   my family was, not once did the mortgage loan 
         15   officer call to say he was sorry that there was a 
         16   problem, that he ever called to apologize. 
         17            Thank you very much. 
         18            HEARING OFFICER SMITH:  Anyone else?
         19            (No response)
         20            HEARING OFFICER SMITH:  Well, I want to 
         21   express appreciation on behalf of the Federal 
         22   Reserve for all of those who remain and those who 
         23   were here before to offer their views as well as to 
         24   listen to the views of others. 
         25            This has been an important meeting.  We 
          1   have had discussion and have been able to ask 
          2   questions on a lot of significant issues, and you 
          3   can be assured that that this is information that 
          4   the Board will take into account as it makes its 
          5   analysis and reaches a determination on this 
          6   application. 
          7            I'll ask my fellow members if there is 
          8   anything you would like to add.  
          9            (No response)
         10            HEARING OFFICER SMITH:  Thank you all very 
         11   much, and we are adjourned.  
         12                 (Whereupon the meeting was
         13                 adjourned at 9:30 p.m.)
          1                   C E R T I F I C A T E
          2            We, Anne H. Bohan and Carol H. Kusinitz, 
          3   Registered Professional Reporters, do hereby certify 
          4   that the foregoing transcript, Volume I, is a true 
          5   and accurate transcription of our stenographic notes 
          6   taken on July 7, 1999. 
         10                            ________________________
         11                            Anne H. Bohan, RMR
         17                            ________________________
         18                            Carol H. Kusinitz, RPR

Last update: December 3, 2010