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Court 4 in Fuengirola voids 9 equity release mortgages taken out by British pensioners 


Esperanza Broz Martorell, presiding over Court of First Instance 4 in Fuengirola, has declared that 9 mortgage loans worth close to 4 million Euros taken out by British property owners with Chesire-based lender SLM are totally null and void and makes an order to the land registry for the removal of the lender’s charge. Additionally, the Court makes a specific order preventing SLM from claiming the sums advanced to the borrowers, who will not be therefore forced to return any sums.

At the request of the claimants’ counsel (Lawbird Legal Services S.L.P.), the Court accepted the cross-examination of various witnesses -lawyers who acted for SLM, former Hamilton’s Financial Services’ employees, an ubiquitous Mr. Sam Atkisons, current SLM director- and substantial contractual documentation as well as promotional literature, none of which was contested by SLM.

The Court went to consider that the claimants had taken out -between 2006 and 2007- a single product denominated SITIRS (Spanish Inheritance Tax and Income Release Scheme), of complex financial nature, where the grant of a mortgage-backed loan (given to mostly pensioners of limited income) “was inextricably linked to a predetermined purpose for at least 95% of the loan, it being the purchase of shares in a fund that had been previously designated by SLM”, shares that were also pledged in favour of SLM.

According to the ruling, the following were applicable to this case:

  • SLM sold the product in Spain via agents, financial services companies such as Hamiltons Financial Services who, in this case, operated as a tele-sales company. 
  • SLM paid a one-off commission to the agents and for that very reason, cannot be described as “independent financial advisors”.
  • SLM was unable to prove that the investors understood the risks inherent to the product they were acquiring, nor did they establish -beyond reasonable doubt- any previous financial experience by the claimants.
  • SLM provided generic documentation on risks and did not specify all other potential hazards involving the complex financial contraption.
  • Claimants faced the brunt of the financial risk as SLM had secured its investment via a mortgage loan on the property and a pledge on the shares within the investment.
  • SLM held the shares within the investment, giving rights over those to the individual investors.
  • SLM operated unregulated and outside the legality, depriving customers from the protection offered by specific legislation.

The above circumstances satisfied the Court that these loans were illegal in Spain and therefore, should be set aside and declared void. In addition, the Court accepted that SLM committed civil fraud as they withheld vital information from their customers who, had they’d known the extent of it would have never signed up for the investment-linked mortgage loans. 

The ruling is not firm as SLM has 20 days to appeal to the Malaga Appeal Court.

Rothschild lawyers prepare for Court war

Rothschild Bank International Limited Logo

N.M. Rothschild & Sons has taken the legal defense of the Equity Release (ER) cases in Spain as a matter of life or death.

In a very generous interpretation of Spanish procedural laws that allow parties to bring those witnesses deemed useful in support of their arguments, the following individuals have been lined up for an up and coming Court hearing to take place in Denia:

  • Dean Murphy, former boss of Hamilton’s Financial Services, in charge of selling hundreds of fraudulent ER contracts. Currently based in La Cala de Mijas, Málaga.
  • Stephen Dewsnip, former manager Rothschild Bank International Limited that operated, knowingly, without a license in Spain. Currently living in West Sussex.
  • Peter Rose, former director at Rothschild Bank International Limited, currently living in Guernsey.
  • Claire Whittet, currently working for Rothschild Bank International Limited.
  • David Shannon, currently working for Rothschild Bank International Limited.

ERVA lawyers have cast doubt over the convenience -for Rothschild- of deposing those who explicitly extolled the false virtues of the Credit Select Mortgages, namely:

  • IHT-friendly.
  • Fully apt for risk-averse pensioners.
  • “Different” from a normal mortgage, as Rothschild would “not look to treating customers as regular borrowers”.

In all logic, those no longer under the umbrella of Rothschild will surely feel that being subjected to harsh cross-examination from the victims’ expert counsel, after moving on with their personal and professional lives, will be both stressful and unnecessary, unless of course their is some financial gain in it.

The Denia judge has the right to use his discretion to decide on the pertinence of Rothschild’s witness requests.

Landsbanki fails to transfer Equity Release cases to Luxembourg

Landbanki Luxembourg

It has been a while since our last post, but things have been fairly quiet in the litigation front, save for Landsbanki’s cases.

Undeterred by recent rotund judicial response against Equity Release contracts, liquidators for the Icelandic defunct financial predator remain undeterred and a still trying to collect their investments or, if needed, steal pensioners’ properties from under their feet.

For Landsbanki, cunning has become a second nature and consequently, their very latest devious strategy is to contest the jurisdiction of Spanish Courts in favour of the bank-friendly tribunals of Luxembourg, invoking EU-bankruptcy laws.

So far though, ERVA lawyers have managed to throw out no less than 8 motions filed by Landsbanki to have the cases relocated to Luxembourg Courts. The Courts involved are in the Malaga, Almeria and Alicante provinces.

2 further motions were accepted by the Courts but are likely to be reversed on appeal.

On finding in favour of the victims of the equity release fraud, the Courts upheld existing case law on the matter (two rulings of the Court of Appeal of Malaga of 2013 and 2015) as well as legal precepts invoked by the counsel of the victims.

Specifically, the Courts have convened that:

  • EU-bankruptcy laws do not apply to contracts signed by consumers, who still have the right to choose to litigate where they live.
  • EU-bankruptcy laws do not apply to legal agreements or contracts that were entered with the company prior to it becoming insolvent.
  • Spanish laws grant exclusive jurisdiction to national Courts where dispute over property registered rights is concerned.

 

 

Nykredit and Sydbank Cheated Foreigners with Mortgages Worth Millions

Oficina de Nykredit en Marbella

Two Danish Companies persuaded British property owners to take out mortgage loans they could not repay

Following the Appeal Court ruling against Nykredit and Sydbank where both defendants have been branded “clandestine operators” for operating without a license, Spanish national press have extensively covered this extraordinary story of fraud and deceipt. 

The following media have written about this deception:

 

BREAKING NEWS: Malaga Appeal Court Demolishes Nykredit & Sydbank’s Equity Release Mortgage

 

The Malaga Appeal Court has reversed an unjust Court of First Instance ruling and granted relief to two British pensioners victims of the “Spanish Equity Release Package” (SERP), peddled by Nykredit Realkredit A/S “and Sydbank (Schweiz) AG and sold by Offshore Money Managers.

The following is a summary of the ruling, received today:

  • Foreign pensioners were lured to Offshore Money Managers Equity Release proposal due to its attractive IHT reduction benefits.
  • Nykredit  and Sydbank associated themselves to produce the SERP.
  • Sydbank was not authorized to operate in Spain, in spite of which they opened -in contravention of mandatory laws- an office in Fuengirola.
  • Nykredit had no authorization by the Danish regulator to grant loans in Spain for investment purposes.
  • Chrystel Mark Hansen (mentioned twice) and Karen Egaa’s testimonies, on behalf of Nykredit, have been described as being extremely unreliable, when not openly untruthful.
  • Nykredit’s forensic expert’s conclusions are challenged extensively for being grossly biased in favour of the lender, besided deliberately ignoring fundamental aspects of contractual arrangements.
  • Nykredit’s mortgage loan is rendered null and void and Sydbank (Switzerland) is ordered to pay back 462,000 Euros to the claimants.

The Court findings represents a great disaster for both these banks because their conduct with existing clients is reported as irregular and dishonest, and to that effect imposed the maximum possible penalties in law.

(we will expand shortly)

Court Orders Stay on Nordea’s Foreclosure Proceedings

An Estepona Court has order an indefinite stay of proceedings in respect to a foreclosure case brought by Nordea against a Danish Equity Release victim.

Nordea’s aggressive stance was met with resistance from  lawyers acting for the customer, who invoked the abusiveness of the early maturity or redemption clauses and the pending resolution by the European Court of Justice, who will decide on their potential illegality.

 

 

CHANGE OF FORTUNES: BANKS SET TO LOSE MILLIONS WORTH OF EQUITY RELEASE CONTRACTS

Landbanki Luxembourg

A recent ruling by the Appeal Court of Bilbao -confirming an earlier ruling by the Court of First instance-is to set the ground for future cases on the so-called Equity Release mortgage loans.  Three Judges in the Basque High Court have ruled that banks -and by extension any other financial services company- that do not have a valid operating license will see their agreements declared null and void, be it mortgage loans, investment contracts or any other.

In late 2014, 20 pensioners (mostly British) bought an action to set aside 12 equity release mortgage loans -worth 6 million euros- against SLM, a Cheshire-based lender. The lender had not secured the mandatory regulatory license although they did warn they had no license to operate in Spain as, according to them, they were only providing lending for customers seeking to raise cash on their homes.

Now, the Bilbao Appeal Court has said the warning was no ‘mitigating’ factor because it misled the claimants into believing that the loan they were sold was financially secure when, in fact, most of it was invested via unregulated Isle of Man-based-dubious Premier-Group.

The relevance of the ruling, which brings an end to the suffering of the victims of this scam, is twofold: it nullifies contracts issued by unregulated companies and it fully endorses the allegations of the claimants that the widely publicized Inheritance Tax benefits were false, emphasizing that such conduct is deceitful and fraudulent.

It is believed that defunct Luxembourg-based Landsbanki Bank had lent a staggering 100 million euros in Spain to reduce death duties that thankfully will be difficult to recoup, whilst Rothschild Group could be set to lose 40 million Euros.

 

BILBAO APPEAL COURT UPHOLDS THE ILLEGALITY OF THE SLM MORTGAGES

Photograph: Registro Civil

The Appeal Court in Bilbao has upheld last year’s ruling by the Court of First Instance 11 in Bilbao and determined that  mortgage loans granted by Surrenda Link Mortgage (SLM) to invest with Premier Group should be declared null and void.

The appeal ruling confirms that operating without a license is a grave infringement of one mandatory regulatory framework of great importance: the financial services sector. As a result, they order the maximum possible sanction -nullity and voidness- to those illegal activities. For the Appeal Court, acting in this manner

deprived the claimants of any guarantees, which the current legislation envisages to ensure there is complete information with regards to the evolution and situation of the financial entities so that, in this respect, they can limit or prohibit those practices or deals that increase the risk of insolvency or lack of liquidity, and reinforce the resources required to attend to those risks, thus avoiding harm to applicants…Preamble of the Stock Exchange Act of 26/1988).

The Appeal Court goes further than the original ruling and fully corroborates and endorses the allegations of the claimants that the widely publicized Inheritance Tax benefits are false, emphasizing that such conduct is deceitful.

Finally, the higher Court reaffirms the allegation by the claimants that they had no financial experience, a fact not challenged by SLM.

SLM’s choices are to accept the ruling and not interfere in the cancellation of the mortgage loans or explore filing an exceptional appeal with the Supreme Court, a possibility only accepted in very specific cases.

Litigants expressed their satisfaction over the performance of their lawyers Lawbird Legal Services.

 

BREAKING NEWS: the BILBAO APPEAL COURT UPHOLDS THE ILLEGALITY OF THE SLM MORTGAGES

Audiencia de BizkaiaBREAKING NEWS

The Court of Appeal in Bilbao has dismissed totally the appeal launched by the SLM (Surrenda Link Mortgage) Madrid-based lawyers and upheld the first ruling of the Court of First Instance 11 in Bilbao.

SLM’s choices are to accept the ruling and not interfere in the cancellation of the mortgage loans or explore filing an exceptional appeal with the Supreme Court, a route only accepted in very specific cases.

More to follow in the next post.

Founder Member and President of ERVA celebrates Court victory over DANSKE BANK LUXEMBOURG S.A.

Image result for euan armstrong erva

Euan Armstrong, member founder and current President of ERVA, has managed to persuade a Court in Coin to dismiss loan foreclosure proceedings brought by Danske Bank International S.A. in 2010.

The victim of vicious luxembourg-based Danske Bank has fought relentlessly during 7 years to stop the lender from taking his home, after having been cheated by the bank’s staff -at one time based in Fuengirola- who sold him an Equity Release loan named as “Capital Assurance”.

In spite of being unsuccessful in 2 criminal actions, one directed to the bank’s representatives for aggravated fraud and a further one against a Coin-based Judge for negligence, the Superior Court of Justice in Granada -when dismissing the latter complaint against the Judge- deemed that Mr. Armstrong was nevertheless right in denouncing irregularities in the proceedings and observed that a fresh review of the case was necessary.

Finally, a newly-appointed Judge in Coin decided that Danske Bank’s position was untenable and threw the case out.

This ruling can be appealed (est. time 1.5 years to resolve) but it is unlikely it will be upheld.

Meanwhile, Euan is bringing new proceedings against Danske Bank International S.A. to nullify the Equity Release product and invalidate the mortgage loan.

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