The Equity Release Victims Association (ERVA) â€“ (www.erva.es) is now up and running. Having been formally incorporated last Wednesday, through a Marbella Notary Public, it has, among its aims,Â denouncing the magnitude of the infringementsÂ committed by a number of banks, mostly Scandinavian who, in clear breach of applicable legislation (regulatory, consumer protection, civil, banking, financial, and not the least, ethical), devised a tax-evading scheme that would be offered to pensioners to profit from them, using the illicit excuse that it was suicidal not to have a mortgage registered against their properties.
The ERVA will be formally filing claims with the appropriate Government offices, requesting formally not only that these products are banned in future but also, that the banks that offered them are disciplined in accordance to the seriousness of the offences committed. Of particular importance are:
- Denunciation at the Spanish Prosecution Office (Fiscalia), requesting that a full investigation is conducted into the alleged tax-evasion proposition that constituted the main selling feature of these Equity Release schemes, and consequently, the well-defined target market this scheme was aimed at: financially conservative and vulnerable pensioners owners of an unencumbered retirement homes. Equally, of great significance is the financial state these schemes have left countless numbers of victims, as well as the major implications for their state of mental health and well-being Â (typically, the infliction of mental and emotional anguish of being deprived of their life-savings ultimately and more immediately, a roof to live under). Even if these banks are no longer offering these obnoxious products, the writ will specifically request that the Spanish Prosecution Office, by application of article 26 of the 34/1988 Publicity Act, in relation to article 29, pursues theÂ cessation actionÂ to prevent them from offering them in future.
- Denunciation at the financial and insurance regulators (ComisiĂłn Nacional Mercado de Valores and DirecciĂłn General de Seguros), and the Bank of Spain (Banco de EspaĂ±a),Â who will be requested that a thorough study is made into the validity of a contract of Equity Release, not approved for use in Spain under 2007 Reverse Mortgages Act and prior to its enactment, by the uses and customs of banking practices (as the Spanish equity release equivalent was not regulated formally until then although, it was specifically described as a product to allow asset â€śrichâ€ť pensioners access to this wealth, all the while having full guarantees of living in the property for the rest of their lives). The ERVA will specifically request that disciplinary and exemplary fines are imposed on the infringing banks, inclusive of a temporary suspension of their activities within Spain.
- Denunciation at the Regional and National Consumers Association, to obtain a ruling condemning the publicity as false or deceptive advertising and fining these entities proportionally, in accordance to article 36 of the 26/ 1984 Consumers and Users Protection Act, applicable prior to 2007. Given the impact, relevance and geographical scope of the mis-selling of Equity Release schemes, the ERVA should request that the infractions committed by these banks are deemed â€śvery seriousâ€ť and the highest possible fines imposed (from â‚¬600,000 to 5 times the amount of the product mis-sold, as well the closing of the branch offices of the offending banks wherefrom the products were sold, for up to 5 years).
The list of proposed actions is not exhaustive and may include other proposals in the countries of origin of the offending banks.
Original Post:Â The Equity Release Victims Association Up and Running