Tag archives for Landsbanki Luxembourg

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

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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.

 

Round Up of Equity Release Decisions

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ERVA has compiled a list of known Equity Release Court rulings. The Courts have all found in favour of the victims and ordered the mortgage loans to be removed or have rendered the foreclosure proceedings invalid. In most, the Courts have opted to resolve the dispute by ordering a “restitution of benefits”, which means that each party should be returning what they took under the contract: the bank is made responsible to pay the interest and cover the investment losses, and the borrower is to return the sums paid to them at the outset.

In one case, the Court refused the bank the right to claim back the initial payment.

Some of these cases are under appeal and could be reversed although, we strongly believe it to be unlikely under the the prevailing mood against defrauding banks and bankers for their known misdeeds and mischief.

 

Landsbanki Luxembourg S.A. Vs. Borrowers. 25th April 2015 in Court of First Instance 8 of Marbella

The court invalidates the foreclosure proceedings against the borrowers and terminates the case on grounds that the lender Landsbanki Luxembourg S.A. had grossly failed to file the adequate documentation alongside the foreclosure petition.

As a result, the bank is barred from filing foreclosure proceedings against this borrower for good.

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2 Claimants Vs. Danske Bank International S.A. 31st of March 2015, in Court of First Instance 2 in Benidorm

According to the Court, it is proven that we are before a contract known as “Equity Release”, named as “Home Income Plan” for retired people where the bank grants a loan that it is invested either directly or via a third party, retaining the lender a pledge over the investment, with a view to obtain sufficient income to finance the loan and hopefully, an excess that will supplement the customer’s pension.

The customers only received part of the loan, the balance being kept under control of the bank and later being invested through complex financial products, retaining the lender a pledge.

Court determines the nullity and voidness of an equity release mortgage loan on grounds that the clients had no financial or investment knowledge, professional or commercial experience, investment expertise nor sufficient academic training to understand, not even superficially, the financial product offered by the bank. It was also proven that the clients had not ability to select and validly carry out the investments in financial products as those where the loan was invested.

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2 Claimants Vs. N.M. Rothschild & Sons Ltd. 7th of November 2016

            The Court rejects the allegation by the defendant that this is a simple and ordinary mortgage loan because the loan’s destination is predetermined, from the outset, to be invested in a complex investment fund. It is therefore a complex product that includes, inter alia, a loan that is conditional upon the following: the mortgage, the specifications in respect to the drawdowns and the pledge of the investment fund. It is therefore not possible to separate or demarcate the mortgage loan from the destination to be given to the capital.

The Notary that intervened in the mortgage loan was deposed in Court and he affirmed the complexity of the product.

The Court rules that the product does not adapt to the profile nor needs of the claimants i.e. retired pensioners that do not need to make any investment but resort to signing this contract because of the fear instilled in them of announced spectacular and horrific Inheritance Tax.

Neither claimant required this product at this point in their lives, as they owned unencumbered property with a stable financial situation.

The Court orders the Equity Release contracts null and void and orders restitution of benefits.

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1 Claimant Vs Surrenda Link Mortgage Funding NÂș 1 (SLM). 2nd of May 2017 in Court of First Instance 3 in Vera.

The Court determines that the Equity Release mortgage is null and void on grounds that it consisted of a complex product, that the claimants had no previous investment experience, academic education to understand the product they were purchasing nor there was any evidence that the claimants had ever in their life invested in financial products. It is also established that the claimants had not “investors profile”, not even conservative.

As a result, it is ruled that the bank breached the applicable laws in the matter and the equity release mortgage loan is declared void, ordering a mutual restitution of benefits.

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2 Claimants Vs. Landsbanki Luxembourg S.A. 7th of February 2017 in Court of First Instance 4 in Fuengirola.

The Court determines that the product SITRA II (made up of a loan, a mortgage, an investment and a pledge) is a complex financial instrument whose effects depend, largely, on market values of impossible determination in the contracts, which are usually redacted in abstract terminology, and therefore only accessible to experienced people.

According to the ruling, the neither the defendant nor its agent O.M.M. made any attempt to ensure that a) the profile of the claimants was adequate to the product and they understood the complexities nor b) whether the information provided was clear, concise and transparent.

It is also added that at source, the documentation given to the clients was fraudulent at worst, negligent at best, and because of this the equity release is declared null and void, ordering the mortgage loan to be cancelled and the advance payment retained by the claimant in concept of damages.   

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2 Claimants Vs. Landsbanki Luxembourg S.A. 11 of December 2014 in Court of First Instance 8 in Marbella

The Court determines that the equity release mortgage loan documentation given by the bank to the customers does not allow for an understanding of the product. None of the documents includes clear, concise, detailed or relevant information in respect to the functioning of the product or its financial consequences.

The complexity of the product resides in destining a large part of the mortgage loan to sign up a unit linked life insurance product that is made up of an investment fund. The information provided was manifestly insufficient.

The reality is that not even the bank provides a plausible explanation in respect to how does the investment of the loan through financial products work.

Because of these complexities, the bank should have carried out actions to ensure that the client knew exactly the different possible scenarios and consequences.

The Court determines that the bank misrepresented the real complexity of the product and therefore concludes that the client was unable to understand and accept the product validly, for which reason they decide to nullify the mortgage loan, with restitution of benefits.

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2 Claimants Vs Surrenda Link Mortgage Funding NÂș 1 (SLM). 29th of October 2014 in Court of First Instance 3 in Torrevieja (Alicante)

The Court determines that the customers were classed as ‘retail’ and that, as a result, they should have been provided extensive and detailed information on different scenarios of investment performance, associated risks, ensuring that the product was suitable and that it was clearly understood by the customer.

The Court nullifies the mortgage loan and orders the lender to pay 40,000 Euros in damages.

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17 Claimants Vs. Surrenda Link Mortgage Funding NÂș 1 (SLM).  30 of November in Court of First Instance 11 of Bilbao

Court of First Instance 11 in Bilbao has ruled that twelve mortgage loans valued at 6 million Euros, granted to British families mostly in the Malaga province between 2004 and 2007, should be declared void.

The Court dealt with this case as all loans were granted at a Bilbao Notary Public and the representatives of the lender, SL Mortgage Funding nÂș1 Limited (SLMF), were also based in the Basque city, according to Lawbird Legal Services S.L.P.

These loans were sold to attain a reduction in potential inheritance tax, since the mortgage would reduce the taxable value of the property, but also to supplement the modest pensions received by the owners of the properties.

Chester-based SL Mortgage Funding nÂș1 Limited (SLMF) had not applied for the necessary regulatory permits to legally raise funds from the public and provide an investment service, activities reserved and regulated by the Bank of Spain and the CNMV (financial regulator).

Despite not having any of the above authorizations, SLMF would lend but at the same time retain most of the proceeds of the loan, which would then be invested by them.

The ruling declares that “infringing the protocols set by the relevant administrative authority to supervise the disputed product is a regulatory violation that exceeds that of a mere breach of banking laws, such as misselling, so profusely dealt with recently in relation to the massive sale of complex financial products.”

The Judge held that in this case, the breach of public policy “is far more serious for it makes a mockery of a whole system of financial and banking supervision designed to prevent abuses to consumers and protect the stability of the sector”, and likens this behaviour “civil fraud”, which is any proposal that contravenes mandatory regulations or has a false or forbidden reason.

The sale of this product was conducted via commission-earning financial advisory firms, namely David Driver from OIB, Hamiltons Financial Services and Henry Woods Investment Management, based in Estepona, Marbella and Fuengirola.

SLMF also recommended a network of lawyers that created an appearance of seriousness, downplaying the extent of the lack of licensing requirements of the bank and the product.

According to Lawbird Legal Services S.L.P., for the claimants, the ruling confirms that operating in breach of mandatory banking and financial regulations makes the suspect a “boiler room”, -even if the company was legally operating in their own country- and allows the victims to rid themselves of a nightmare lasting for over 10 years.

The Judge concludes that the nullity and voidness should be made applicable to all contracts and agreements executed between the clients and the bank, applying the laws of contractual termination in odd fashion –albeit most favourable- as clients “will be able to claim what consideration they gave under the contract without having to return was given to them.”

 

LANDSBANKI’s attempt to evict an 85-year old suffering from Alzheimer comes to a halt

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Resultado de imagen de yvette hamilius

Landsbanki’s Yvette Hamilius could not care less about people. The insensitive, greedy and immoral banker – currently indicted on a criminal case in France- would sooner evict an 85-year old sufferer of Alzheimer than to accept that sometimes, there is a line that you cannot cross over.

But she cares not and will do all that is within her powers to leave elderly people destitute. Unfortunately for her, on this occasion lawyers acting for an octogenarian couple victim of Landsbanki’s predatory banking have managed to persuade the Courts that it is not right to evict ailing elderly people.

The Ronda-based Judge denied Landsbanki’s petition to have the lady summoned once again. As a result of this setback, the lender has resigned to the fact that it may not be possible to just pull her out and thus, have agreed to have the Spanish Prosecutor Service representing the victim, as petitioned by lawyers acting for her.

 

 

Marbella Court Invalidates Landsbanki Foreclosure

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(Mme. Yvette Hamilius, aka Mme. Yvette Horribilius)

Court Number 1 in Marbella has ruled that a mortgage foreclosure claim brought by Landsbanki should be set side and declared null and void.

The Court was satisfied with the allegations, submitted by a Landsbanki Equity Release Victim, concerning faulty and/or insufficient notification of claim and defective filing.

Landsbanki representatives attempted to rectify their error at a later stage during the process, being rejected forthwith by the presiding Judge.

Landsbanki has the right to appeal with the Malaga Appeal Court, which they may do within the next 20 days. This option appears unlikely as there are no objective grounds to do so; there are crucial documents missing and the ruling is clear.

If Landsbanki do not appeal or they go ahead and lose the appeal, the foreclosure route will be closed for good, forcing Landsbanki to issue declaratory proceedings, slower and with ample scope for the victim to argue the fraudulent nature of the contract.

LandsbankiForeclosureNullVoid

 

Legal Action Against Landsbanki Luxembourg, Lex Life Luxembourg S.A. and Offshore Money Managers

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LETTER TO LANDSBANKI CUSTOMERS ARE SENT BY FIRM LAWBIRD LEGAL SERVICES

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are due to soon file proceedings against Landsbanki Luxembourg S.A., Lex Life Luxembourg S.A. (and/or its successor) and Offshore Money Managers.

The main reason for the delay in filing has been due to our firm considering, in the light of the content of writs submitted by  Landsbanki Luxembourg, that a claim for misleading advertising should include also excerpts of the cases where Landsbanki lawyers admit –in at least there occasions- that the main reason why this product was offered to the public was as means to -legally- reduce or mitigate Spanish Inheritance Tax.

These crucial undertakings by Landsbanki lawyers indicate that the bank willfully engaged in marketing and selling a bogus tax planning scheme, as confirmed by the Spanish Tax Office in 2013. More so, Landsbanki lawyers confirmed that a brochure explaining the inheritance tax planning was give out to all clients and that this was therefore one of the main reasons, if the principal, for property owners to acquire an Equity Release.

The case is therefore aimed at establishing whether the advertising was truthful or not and where not, from the point of view of an average reader, if the content would have been explicit enough to persuade readers to acquire the Equity Release Scheme. This signals a departure from classic the case argument aimed at establishing misselling of financial investments took place and rather concentrates on the tax mitigation perpective.

It is only through this strategy that we will be able to request that art. 1,306 of the Civil Code is applied to these cases, the only real option to avoid having to repay the draw down if there is a successful outcome.

Article 1,306. If the deed which constitutes the unlawful cause should not constitute a crime or misdemeanour, the following rules shall be observed:

  1. Where both contracting parties are at fault, none of them may recover what he has given pursuant to the contract, or claim the performance of what the other should have offered.
  2. Where only one contracting party is at fault, he may not recover what he has given pursuant to the contract, or demand the performance of what he should have been offered. The other, who was a stranger to the unlawful cause, may claim what he has given, without the obligation to perform what he should have offered.

Along with Landsbanki and the successor of Lex Life, we have decided to issue proceedings against OMM (Offshore Money Managers), a pseudo-IFA who was nonetheless prolific in their advertising efforts to bring customers and banks together.

Finally, the firm Cuatrecasas –no longer acting for Landsbanki or Lex Life- has confirmed in writing that they never contributed or cooperated in providing any tax planning advice, contrary to what Lex-Life advertising stated; this statement automatically renders the advertising untruthful.

With respect to potential foreclosure action by Landsbanki, we will request that the bank is served with an injunction preventing them from enforcing the mortgage loan rights they hold.

Best regards

 

Landsbanki Misleading Advertising Case Due to be Filed

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Lawyers acting for Landsbanki victims are due to file a misleading publicity case against Landsbanki Luxembourg S.A., Lex Life and Pensions S.A. and Offshore Money Managers Correduría de Seguros S.L.

The case is based on the extensive fraudulent publicity that all three entities issued when offering the product known as ‘SITRA’ (Spanish Inheritance Tax Reduction Scheme), ‘Capital Insurance’ or ‘Equity Release‘.

According to the documentation that lawyers hold, the following has been established:

  • The product was devised as a means to reduce, or eliminate completetely, Spanish IHT. We now know this is not only untrue, as it proposes customers to defraud the Spanish Tax Office.
  • The product was also designed to potentially produce an income, it being the difference between the return on the invested asset, minus charges and expenses, and the cost of servicing the loan. This was just one possibility, the other more likely one being total loss.
  • The advertising stresses prominently the benefits of the product but omits the risks involved -or if at all features these in small print- namely the loss of the property and further. 

Landsbanki was extremely successful in attracting new customers by using its main feature: reduction of Spanish Inheritance Tax. Lex Life & Pensions did too.

And Lex Life & Pensions used the name top Spanish firm Cuatrecasas to push sales, by admitting the following:

this product has been ellaborated in conjunction with top law firm Cuatrecasas

Lawyers are awaiting a formal response to a letter sent to Cuatrecasas but we can anticipate the response: “we deny any involvement and do not want to know anything about this product”

The case is to be filed with Courts in Malaga and will focus on the defendants’ advertising.

As for the role of OMM, its responsibility is two-fold:

  • Active participation in the promotion and marketing of the product, generously remunerated with an introduction commission and further, by receiving regular trail commissions (as is the case with Jyske bank too).
  • Attribution of joint responsibility to any media outlet used to promote and market a particular product or service (rulings by Madrid Appeal Court rulings 17/6/2008 and 30/9/2009).

A case for misleading publicity narrows down the scope of the dispute as it confines the Judge to rule on whether the advertising is/isn’t misleading, without giving any room for further interpretation (i.e. namely misselling: whether customers could and should have sought further advice, whether they were savvy investors or suitable for the product, whether it was a high risk speculative product known to the public etc.).

OMM has declined to come forward to assist claimants, ignoring letters from lawyers inviting them to participate in this case as witnesses, and yet their fraudulent advertising is still today available to the public.

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