The president of OneUnited Bank took issue Wednesday with the Charles Street African Methodist Episcopal Church’s proposed plan to repay its debts over 30 years similar to a home loan instead of a commercial loan.
Testifying in Federal Bankruptcy Court in Boston, OneUnited president Teri Williams said the proposed plan to repay nearly $5 million in defaulted loans contained none of the usual covenants and protections of a commercial loan.
For instance, Williams said, setting a fixed rate of 5.25 percent for 30 years could put the bank at substantial risk in the event that interest rates rise. In addition, she said, the church had not offered protections related to defaults, obtaining insurance and other matters.
Earlier in the day, the church’s lawyer, Ross Martin, had argued that the Charles Street loan is “more akin to a residential loan than to a commercial loan.” The bank’s lawyer rejected that outright, as did Williams.
Judge Frank Bailey, who is presiding in the case, suggested that he might be persuaded of a “hybrid,” or compromise between the usual 5- to 7-year duration of a typical commercial loan and that of a 30-year mortgage.
The judge may go see the properties before making a ruling, at the request of the debtor. Bailey said it would be his first time doing so for the bankruptcy court.
In a separate decision, the judge on Tuesday ruled against the bank’s effort to collect an 18 percent default rate of interest on the church’s debt. The ruling could save the church about $500,000, Martin, the lawyer, said.
A bank official declined to comment.
The parties are scheduled to appear again later this month to hear expert testimony.