Second-largest Spanish bank, BBVA, in what¬†has been described as a¬†landmark ruling,¬†has been found guilty of misleading advertising when offering customers foreclosed properties through printed publicity material.
The specific illegality refers to inserting a disclaimer at the bottom of the ads where it read as follows:
The information contained in this publicity¬†is not of a contractual nature as it¬†merely has informative purposes, being the promoter able to¬†freely modify the characteristics of the offer at any time.
According to the¬†Mercantile Court Number 2 in Madrid,¬†this advertising is illegal and has to be removed.
Also, the bank will have to¬†post rectifying publicity in all BBVA branch windows throughout the country.
Cuatrecasas, Goncalves Pereira law firm, second by turnover in Spain, has confirmed to lawyers acting for Landsbanki victims that Lex Life and Pensions SA used their name illegally when promoting the Lex Life Capital Assurance in Spain.
According to the deceptive publicity of the ignominious Luxembourg-based company, the named firm had been involved in preparing the sham Equity Release product.
This is the paragraph in question:
Our product, Lex Life Capital Assurance-Spain, has been developed in cooporation (sic) with the law firm CUATRECASAS (www.cuatrecasas.com), “Best Spanish Firm of the Year 2005, International Law Office”.
The advertising also attributed this product the following advantages:
Spanish IHT has a ceiling of 34%, but depending on personal circumstances, the amount can go up by 2.4 times.
The Lex Life Capital Assurance-Spain is an excellent, tax compliant way of mitigating tax exposure and safeguarding inheritance tax.
Cuatrecasas strongly denies any involvement with the above and has confirmed to lawyers acting for the victims that they are considering legal action against the company, or their successors.
The Olive Press newspaper has published¬†that a law firm acting for equity release victims has demanded that Baron David de Rothschild appears in Court.
Mr. Rothschild, former Chairman of N.M. Rothschild & Sons, is considered to be the ultimate responsible person of allowing the bank’s advertising to be published in this country.
The referred literature includes an open invitation to register a Spanish property with a mortgage loan to, according to Rothschild, reduce Spanish Inheritance Tax.
Article 282 of the Spanish Criminal Code establishes the following:
Manufacturers or traders who make false claims or declare untrue features in their offers or publicity of products or services, so as to cause serious, manifest harm to consumers, without prejudice to the relevant punishment for having committed other felonies, shall be punished with a sentence of imprisonment of six months to one year or fine from twelve to twenty- four months.
The petition for formal indictement and summons has been filed through the Denia Courts, currently investigating a fraud claim institigated in 2011 by Fuengirola firm IURA.
Stephen Dewsnip and Mark Coutanch, both named and charged in the above criminal proceedings, have failed to attend a hearing and as a result, have been issued with 2 warrants.
Rothschild has been eagerly avoiding being linked to fraudulent lending and has denied liability.
SG Hambros Gibraltar has reacted promptly to accusations of wrongdoing and, as one would expect, has rejected admitting any liability in respect to buying 100% of the private banking business of illegally-operating ABN AMRO N.V. Gibraltar Branch.
Lawyers acting for SG Hambros have confirmed that the take over was only in respect to the mortgage loan portfolio, and not the investment business.
This is stark¬†contrast to what both firms publicised back in 2008.
Quietly though, alerted by the implications of having bought a business that could bring shame of the name SG Hambros Bank (Gibraltar), managing staff have reacted as one other bank -Nordea Banks S.A.- did: removing incriminating posts from internet.
The knee-jerk reaction is generally a clumsy move as not only does it leave a trail but too, ERVA has already pre-empted it by printing the original press release where SG Hambros confirms having acquired 100% of the Gibraltar-based private banking business of ABN AMRO Bank N.V. (Gibraltar).
This is the site where press releases are shown (the PR is of the 1st of July 2008).
This is the page that comes up when you click on the PR.
This is the press release viewers should have been able to read, had they not removed it.
SG Hambros is not new to complex tax-cheating artifices: it was already involved in a 2006 tax avoidance scheme that was busted by the HMRC last year.