Sigrún Davíðsdóttir's Icelog

More on equity release schemes

with 17 comments

Equity release schemes have been causing trouble and tragedies for decades. The UK had its share of this ca two decades ago but stronger regulation put an end to the abuse of these products by its sellers. Scandinavian banks in Luxembourg have been selling the same products in Spain, causing similar harm to clients as Landsbanki caused (except the Landsbanki harm was compounded because of the how the administrator of Landsbanki Luxembourg has chosen to operate.)

Equity Release Scheme Association, Erva, is an association that aims at bringing the nature of these loans to the attention of pensioners who might be tempted by “free” cash offers, where an investment then pays off the loan. Working with the Spanish lawyer Antonio Flores they have successfully stood up for their rights against banks selling these loans. Erva members have filed claims against both Nordea and Rotschild Bank ia for mis-selling equity release loans. It will be interesting to see if actions agains these two banks and Landsbanki will put an end to these type of loan offers.

Luxembourg, as other EU countries, is obliged to follow EU directives on customer protection. The question is how diligently it’s been implemented and adhered to.

“How stupid we were!” said one Landsbanki client at the press meeting in Luxembourg. The sad thing is that banks talk people into it, by promises that don’t add up. Elderly people, often facing bad health and worries about pension have proven to be an easy pray.

The press in Belgium and Luxembourg reported on the Landsbanki action and no doubt the case will be followed with interest by the media, the authorities – and the banking sector.

Follow me on Twitter for running updates.

Written by Sigrún Davídsdóttir

December 1st, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Posted in Iceland

17 Responses to 'More on equity release schemes'

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  1. How right you are. It is estimated that there are in excess of 600 victims of equity release schemes in Spain by various banks such Landsbanki, Rothschild, Barclays, Nycredit, Sydbank, Danskebank and Nordea Bank SA. All these banks have preyed on unfortunate ill informed British pensioners and convinced them using unlicenced IFA’s and agents, and in some cases have sold these products in Spain through their Representative Offices when they were not permitted to do so. Now they have lost all the investments under their control, they are now foreclosing on these pensioners properties in order to recoup the money they have lost. The following email that has been sent to NORDEA BANK SA LUXEMBOURG. perhaps shows how callous this bank in particular is. Let me say that first they have already foreclosed on an apartment he had and now they are going after his main home. This is absolutely heartbreaking for this person and it displays the utter terror with his predicament. We have to do something to stop this. To: “[email protected]
    Sent: Sunday, December 2, 2012 11:55 AM
    Subject: Fw:

    Dear Mr Jorg Heinemann –i am sending you this e-mail to let you know about my situation your bank has put me in.—i have recieved notice from the court here in Spain,that Nordea bank are going to auction my home and evict me on the 17th january 2013.—i am 70 years old,recovering from a major cancer opperation,my wife is under medical suppervision for depression and strees, if i loose my home i will have lost everthing i have worked for, thanks to a greedy bank that preys on old people with a criminal and corrupt equity release plan,—I WILL LOOSE MY LIFE. T J Symons.

    Carian

    2 Dec 12 at 11:38 am

  2. Carian, you are so right to be making this comment and sharing these very important facts with everyone.
    We too have had our lives seized, our family life destroyed, I now have a serious heart condition that 2 cardiologists say is due to immense stress and shock and these doctors are unaware of our horrible experience with Luxembourg.
    My children have been lending us Money and we managed to get a tenant but Landsbanki seized our rent and ordered the tenant to pay the rent which he thought would be helping US, directly by direct debit, to Landsbanki.
    The tenant left and we live in terror of our belongings or our car being seized as the rent was.
    We were hiding our car up the lane just in case, for a while as the Bailiff kept coming to take photos if the interior if our house since 2009 when our home was seized.
    Carian, you are not alone. We are with you to support you and your wife and family
    Please continue to write on this blog and encourage all victims of all the Bank scams running through Luxembourg to share their information and stories.
    We are all in the same boat. We have had our lives taken from us.

    George Ward

    2 Dec 12 at 12:48 pm

  3. Hello George. Thanks for your support, you are right of course. I came across an interesting web site some time ago http://www.erva.es This web site is well worth a read. It appears that erva (Equity Release Victims Association) have amassed a wealth of evidence against a number of banks selling highly toxic and fraudulent equity release schemes in Spain without having any licences in place. Many of these are operating out of Luxembourg. According to this web site Danskebank are being investigated by the criminal court and Nordea Bank SA have also been reported in a criminal complaint. Both in relation to equity release schemes. This is being considered by the Provincial Court. It would also seem that further proceedings have been served on Nordea Bank SA in Malaga at the Mercantile Court for misleading publicity, could also be deemed as fraudulent as well as unfair competition. Rothschild Bank would seem to be going to get the same treatment. Have a read it is better that any crime novel I have read in a long time. I did not realise this was so bad.

    Carian

    2 Dec 12 at 3:07 pm

  4. You know we were stupid to join this scheme and I am the first to admit it, however the sales pitch was compelling, and the presentation of “facts and figures”
    impressive.

    I was preparing some papers for our lawyer today and found that not only were the expected promised returns exaggerated, they were also impossible to have achieved because the balanced portfolio we bought into did not even exist at the time ! Which basically means they were telling us that from 2003 to 2006 the fund had risen nearly 20% when the fund did not exist!

    What hope did we have ?

    Another interesting thing that has happened is that since “going public” last week I have more victims contacting me. Not only from Landsbanki but also Nordea and Danskebank amongst others.

    So to anyone out there in similar straights if you want further information just write to Sigrun who will forward your mail to me. We will beat these criminals.

    Tom Paige

    2 Dec 12 at 10:20 pm

  5. All these bank scams were running out of Luxembourg.

    It is no wonder M. Franz Prost from Deloitte who was working alongside Yvette Hamilius in the early days of the Landsbanki administration either quit or was asked to go, is it?

    Franz Prost has a respected reputation and I have spoken to one of the people he taught. He said he thought there is no way M. Prost could have gone along with the way Yvette has handled this .

    One does have to wonder how 2 women such as Yvette Hamilius and Karine Guillaume could be allowed such power to mis-manage such an international case, by the Procureur General Robert Beiver ?

    How could the Procureur of Luxembourg allow this to happen under his nose without checking on what these 2 women were doing with their power wands?

    What is going on?

    How can 2 women hold such power that they feel they can abuse of not only the employees of Landsbanki, but the very people Landsbanki lied to and ensnared by false promises and lies about the state of the Bank, into becoming Clients ?

    The employees of Landsbanki were lied to about these products and the real state of the Bank just as we were.

    Yvette Hamilius has broken European Law with the employees who are too scared to speak out as they live in Luxembourg.
    The employees WON in European Court of Law.

    We must not forget how they have suffered.
    They are young. Probably our children’s ages.
    Most if us are much older than them.
    We have all been treated appallingly and suffered terribly for being good to Landsbanki Luxembourg!

    We all gave everything to Luxembourg as we trusted the greedy crooks and cheats as did the young Landsbanki employees.

    Luxembourg has betrayed our trust.

    We have all had our lives destroyed by the way this administration has failed to investigate anything.

    Nordea, Barclays, Sydbank, Rothschild, Nycredit, Danskebank, all running out of Luxembourg with their lies and scams and what does Luxembourg do?

    Rachael Williams

    3 Dec 12 at 10:15 am

  6. I’ll tell you what Luxembourg does. It does NOTHING!

    How can we expect Luxembourg to care about investors in their bankrupted Banks if they do not even care about the Luxembourg employees of their bankrupted banks?

    The employees had to go to European Court I see. The administrator and the Juge Commisaire have been ignoring European Laws EVEN for their own citizens and employees!

    How many Luxembourg banks are involved in these scams which Luxembourg does not want to look at nor investigate?
    I see 7 in the above comment but there must be more.

    Charles

    3 Dec 12 at 2:55 pm

  7. Mr Page,

    did you get the same colourful Landsbanki Annual Reports we did when the Fund Managers and intermediaries were selling us these toxic products?

    We got 2 very impressive looking Annual Reports which made Landsbanki and Luxembourg lok like the safest, surest place we could invest in.

    These Annual Reports were better Brochures than any I have ever seen!.

    Of course now we know all the figures were manipulated to get us hooked.
    Don’t think you were stupid.

    We , have a right to think we are protected by European Consumer Law and we all thought Luxembourg was a safe place. 600 or more people is a lot.

    We will fight for justice and the whole truth to be exposed in full and that is probably what Mrs Hamilius fears most.

    Did everyone else get the clourful Annual Report Brochures to impress them, like we did?

    Frank

    3 Dec 12 at 3:01 pm

  8. As you say it was a CON. Now you know it was a CON, I know it was a CON, the banks no it was a CON. Hamilius knows it was a CON. The judge in Paris ruled that it was a CON. Now what. A judge in Barcelona (on similar issues) believes it a CON and has issued indictments against the CEO of a Spanish Bank. Do we have to go from court to court to get justice. Is it not time for an international court to get involved. Antonio Flores of Lawbird in Marbella will be contacting the Landsbanki lawyer to see if both Spain and France can join forces to issue such a writ, naming Landsbanki, Danskebank, Nordea Bank SA and all other banks operating out of Luxembourg. I suspect that Luxembourg will have a number of criminal actions to contend with before this episode is over.

    Carian

    3 Dec 12 at 3:57 pm

  9. Frank,
    Yes I got the glossy brochures, pictures of fancy yachts and villas. Promises of grand returns on our investments.

    We saw the accounts for 2006 2007 and we got the slick salesman. Actually I don’t think I am stupid because it was all so plausible.

    However we are on the way now for justice. As a group wee must not let up on the pressure and we have to keep it in the public eye. Failure to do this will mean they will just carry on with their agenda.

    Tom Paige

    4 Dec 12 at 5:15 pm

  10. http://erva.es/

    Read the latest on Nordea Bank SA Equity Release Scheme in Spain. Nordea Bank SA Luxembourg has had a writ admitted into the Mercantile Court in Malaga. The writ is for mis-leading/fraudulent advertising and unfair competition. This also breaks the rules of its own banking association in Luxembourg (ABBL)and is against European Law. They now have 20 days in which to answer. Under this law the onus is on the defence and not the prosecution to probve that their literature wasd in fact truthful. Not bad going for Nordea to be voted best bank in Europe. Then they don’t appear to have much competition from what I have read recently.Full details and supporting documentation can be found on the link above

    Peter James

    19 Dec 12 at 2:10 pm

  11. 15:41 (0 minutes ago)

    to me
    http://erva.es/2012/12/31/how-top-law-firm-changed-report-to-suit-equity-release-banks/#comment-313

    Not only do the equity release victims in Spain have to put up with banks operating scams. We are now faced with Spanish lawyers singing to the tune of the Banks. You will see in the first report that Uria Menendez (Madrid Top Law Firm) published a report stating that equity release schemes were fraudulent as the mortgage loan offered by the banks was a “SIMULATED” debt and therefor there would be no tax saving for IHT beneficiaries. Seemingly this did not suit a bank who perhaps complained that such a paragraph (para 6) would not be in their interest so aske for it to be removed and a new and very much different report be submitted and circulated, which they did of course. Not only in Spain do we have to cope with banks selling fraudulent Equity Release Schemes but it seems that these lawyers have caught the same disease. What is the world coming to.

    Peter James

    31 Dec 12 at 2:55 pm

  12. Urea and Menendez should be reported immediately to the European Courts for corruption shouldn’t they?
    These lawyers stink from corruption and deserve to be publicly shamed and loudly named across Europe?
    Does Spain allow the banks to pervert the course of justice in this way?

    Charles

    31 Dec 12 at 4:21 pm

  13. TO ALL VICTIMS COERCED INTOTAX FRAUD BY THE EQUITY RELEASE BANKS
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financial-crime/9779250/Switzerlands-oldest-bank-Wegelin-pleads-guilty-to-helping-US-citizens-evade-tax.html
    By reading the above link you will of course see striking similarities into this case between a Private Bank in Switzerland and the US Authotities. This is precisely what erva have been alluring to for many months. All the banks have been guilty of this, in particular Rothschild, Danske Bank, Nycredit and others too many to mention. Perhaps the most blatant ones are ROTHSCHILD AND NORDEA BANK SA. NORDEA BANK in particular who have to answert to the Mercantile Court in Malaga for their misleading/fraudulent advertising, tax evading schemes. Rothschild are not far behind, as we have seen over the last few weeks. They will soon follow the same fate in the Mercantile Court. Our next foray is with the CNMV & continuing court cases to expose these obnoxious banks and their crooked ways. We can only hope that the Spanish Authorities will follow the line of the US Regulators &

    Peter James

    4 Jan 13 at 3:01 pm

  14. A message from the Equity Release Victims Association

    As stated in one of earlier comments, we have, through our lawyers sent the letter to Uria & Menendez asking for an explanation as to why, it would appear, that these Rothschild lawyers found it within themselves to publish a very disturbing second report on very important tax issues, omiting a crucial paragraph. We will of course let you know the outcome. With the recent reports of the oldest private bank in Switzerland having to close its doors as a result of the punitive fines imposed by the US Authorities for incitement to commit tax fraud to the US Treasury (see link below) Erva together with its lawyers will be denouncing these banks to the SPECIAL TAX PROSECUTOR . I hope our members will agree with this course of action. It is clear that these banks mnetioned in previous posts are guilty of exactly this INCITEMENT TO COMMIT FRAUD AGAINST THE SPANISH TAX AUTHORITIES. It is time for the Spanish Government to get iunvolved, this could certainly be a good source of income for the much beleagured Spanish economy. You, the victims are responsible for your taxes, therefor you would be the one committing the offence. I wonder how many people have lost their spouses and have in fact unknowingly committed this tax fraud. Just to clarify matters, one cannot only declare the value of the property less the mortgage loan for IHT purposes. You have to declare the whole value including the loan that was taken offshore. These matters will eventually come to light when the courts instruct the banks to divulge this information, perhaps if you are one of these people you need to seek some professional & legal advice and come forward.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financial-crime/9779250/Switzerlands-oldest-bank-Wegelin-pleads-guilty-to-helping-US-citizens-evade-tax.html

    erva

    7 Jan 13 at 11:09 am

  15. http://erva.es/2012/12/01/landsbanki-equity-release-simply-explained/
    Message from erva to the French Landsbanki Victims.

    I am not sure if you picked this one up, but worth a look. I have no idea of the tax situation in France or the rules on misleading/fraudulent advertising, however as this is a European Directive I assume the same or similar laws apply. Hope it is of some help.

    erva

    7 Jan 13 at 11:36 am

  16. Thanks ERVA for sharing. We must help all Equity release people of all the frauds of all the Luxembourg banks.
    ERVA is a good help to everyone. Muchas gracias!

    Enrico Suarez

    17 Jan 13 at 8:25 am

  17. A most depressing and disturbing blog and our hearts go out to those who were robbed by these despicable banks and their contemptible employees.

    Unfortunately Luxembourg “regulators” are not the only tax haven “officials” to host and condone these scams. The Isle of Man has its fair share

    Connect the dots …

    Premier Group of Funds …. falsified glossy marketing brochures … bogus “financial advisors” … old people’s life savings or property … conned into signing illegal documents … realisation you have been robbed … misery, sickness and premature death.

    Robbing the elderly.
    All in a day’s work for the Isle of Man and Premier.

    Justice for Pensioners

    Justice for Pensioners

    28 Feb 14 at 12:27 pm

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