This image was lost some time after publication.

Yesterday afternoon, Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis announced that he plans to "retire" at the end of the year. And despite the fact he's facing ongoing probes by Congress, the SEC, and the attorneys general in New York and Connecticut over BofA's acquisition of Merrill Lynch, he's spent months dealing with withering criticism by Wall Street analysts and shareholders, and he's leaving the bank without a successor in place, Lewis is still maintaining that he—and he alone, without any pressure on him whatsoever!—arrived at the decision to retire. Per the farewell letter he sent out yesterday:

Some will suggest that I am leaving under pressure or because of questions regarding the Merrill deal. I will simply say that this was my decision, and mine alone. Most important to me is this: I will leave knowing that almost anywhere I go in this country, I'll be able to walk into a Bank of America banking center and receive a warm greeting.

Well, that's encouraging, isn't it? At the end of the day, Lewis can take comfort in the fact that if he steps foot into a Bank of America branch somewhere, the tellers will probably not pelt him with quarters. Sounds like he'll be leaving with his reputation intact, after all!

Ken Lewis' Farewell Letter [WSJ]
Bank of America Chief to Depart at Year's End [NYT]