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October 2016

bbc-scotland

BBC Scotland Investigates the Problems of Timeshare Contracts.

On Monday 24 October BBC Scotland broadcast an investigation into the problems people have in getting out of their timeshare, especially the elderly.

It highlighted an elderly retired couple from Scotland who purchased their timeshares from a company that is now owned by MacDonald Resorts and Hotels. The company is now owned 50% by HBOS Group (Bank of Scotland and Halifax, part of the Lloyds Banking Group) and 50% by Donald MacDonald. They originally purchased at the Dona Lola Club in Spain, when their children were young. But as we have seen on many occasions, ill health prevents them from travelling, especially abroad, because of the problem of the increasing cost of travel insurance.

mcdonald logohbos

They have been trying to “relinquish” their contract for around two years, but the resort management, MacDonalds, want them to pay over £3000 to relinquish their two weeks. Even after they have paid their maintenance every year since purchasing. They are still trying to negotiate with MacDonalds, but are still paying £1600 maintenance each year.

This is not a new story to Inside Timeshare, we have the story of Mrs B, who used another company to “get rid” of her timeshare at Dona Lola, she is 83 and also in ill health and unable to travel. Like many others she paid her maintenance every year without fail, even though for the past ten years has never used it, Mrs B and her sister could not even travel to any of the UK resorts.

When she eventually paid another company to get rid of it for her the trouble started. Inside Timeshare has copies of the documents that show her timeshare has been transferred to another person, but MacDonalds refuse to accept this and say she owes maintenance. They have even instructed a debt collection agency, Network Credit Services, to chase for the the £1412.54 they say she owes. She has already received a final demand to pay within 7 days or face court action.

Inside Timeshare has helped her to formulate an official complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service to try and resolve the matter. This is still underway, yet it is that time of year when new maintenance bills will be falling on the door mat.

old-lady
How much!

MacDonalds stated in the programme:  “We’ve been widely praised for pioneering the introduction of a practical exit mechanism for owners. In fact, 90% of resort owners voted in favour of amending their resorts’ constitutions to formally adopt these fair and reasonable proposals”.

Well the proposal to be able to get out was not what you could call fair, it required at least 4 years payment of maintenance and was limited to every 2 years with first come first served.

In the next comment MacDonalds also stated: “However, it would clearly be detrimental to the upkeep of the resorts and unfair on the remaining resort owners if people were allowed to walk away from their contractual and legal obligations without some form of reasonable recompense which allows for the quality of facilities at the resorts to be maintained for future generations”.

This last statement clearly shows that MacDonalds are not interested in the owners apart from the continued collection of fees. So what is the reason for this statement?

It is quite simple, MacDonalds are a management company employed by the resorts, to run, maintain and collect the management fees. They actually own no property, like most of these large companies, i.e Diamond and Diversified. In the past MacDonalds with the backing of TATOC, changed the members from fixed weeks to a points system, when doing this they effectively took control of the resorts. By taking over the fixed weeks, MacDonalds become responsible for the maintenance fees on those weeks, with you the points owners paying a hefty increase in your charges.

By allowing people to hand back their ownership, with no prospect of new clients purchasing what is now a very expensive way to holiday, it will cost them. After all MacDonalds does not want to use their own money.

Another point to the broadcast was the problem of using other companies with their promises of “resale”. One company interviewed was one Inside Timeshare has highlighted in past articles, Sellmytimeshare.tv and Monster.

The BBC sent an undercover reporter, Fergus Muirhead, he contacted Sellmytimeshare.tv about getting rid of his mothers timeshare. Over the phone he was given a valuation of £9,400 with an invitation to meet with the company face to face.

undercover

He stated that it was obvious that they had no intention of paying him that amount from the outset of the meeting, with Sellmytimeshare telling him “We can’t sell the timeshare because no one’s buying them so we certainly can’t get that money back for her.”

He was then given by the advisor a series of figures, which had to be paid upfront on the day, this was for thousands of pounds. He was told he would be given “credits” which could be used as part payment for goods or even be sold.

Fergus stated that if he held them for 14 months, he could sell these credits for £17,216, which covered the £9,400 and the £6,700 he was going to pay upfront. It was also not clear as to how the timeshare would be disposed of.

The programme also interviews Stephen Boyd a lawyer with experience of timeshare law, he is also a partner at Athena Law. He said he had around 300 clients and was in the process of instigating a legal action against Sellmytimeshare.tv and Monster Travel Group, the parent company.

He stated: “My clients were told by this company that they could get rid of their timeshare, but when they went to a meeting they had to buy another product and they were promised a financial return.

“They’ve also found that the promised financial return never materialised and in many cases they’re still liable for the maintenance fees of their timeshare.”

When asked for a reply the spokesperson for Monster said:  “Customers seeking advice from us about relinquishing their timeshares are informed of the options available through us and are free to choose what they consider best suits them”.

“One of those options includes the purchase of a Monster Rewards Bundle, which can be redeemed against an increasingly wide range of goods and services, including travel”.

Follow the link to the full article on BBC News.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-37690840

Recent Inside Timeshare articles.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tca-tess-athena-law-locked-conflict/

http://insidetimeshare.com/monster-credits-associated-companies-summary/

http://insidetimeshare.com/tess-vs-monster/

One thing is clear from all this, it is the owners of the timeshares who are suffering, not just from the timeshare companies but those who say they will sell them for you, only to sell you another product. Remember the Club Class and DWVC pitch, we will take your timeshare from you if you join our club, we will then give you a “Cashback” certificate for the value of the timeshare and the cost of joining. This was to last either 3 or 5 years, at which point you claimed from the cashback company supposedly the value on the certificate. Guess what, no one ever did and in most cases they still were liable for the maintenance fees.

Timeshares are not worth anything, they lose value the moment you purchase, even in the USA as we have seen from recent articles, they sell only for a fraction of the original cost if at all. So the warning here is do not believe it when you are told you timeshare is worth thousands, check out ebay, they can’t even give them away.

If you require any further information about this or any other matter, or need any help in finding out about any company you may be thinking of doing business with, Inside Timeshare will be pleased to help. Remember being forewarned is being forearmed.

research

thoughts

My Thought Today: End of October

So here we are the end of another month, we started October with news of a Supreme Court ruling which stated that “Fractional” was indeed timeshare. In this instance Puerto Calma, Holiday Club Finland was ordered to repay over £235,542.00 as they had sold it as an investment.

Then Inside Timeshare reported the news of the first prosecution in the ongoing Anfi Tauro Beach Project.  The former head of the Canarian Coastal Authority José Maria Hernandez has been charged with administrative malfeasance (wrongdoing in public office) and forgery of official documents. The prosecutor Javier Ródenas considers that Hernandez verbally authorised the works despite warnings of serious breaches then committed an act of forgery by drafting a document which was then signed by him in April. This document gave the impression that it was written in February when the work actually commenced.

Local residents build defences to protect their homes

We then published an article from Gran Canaria Info which explained recent developments into the goings on at Anfi.

http://gran-canaria-info.com/content/timeshare-law/anfi-del-mar-and-the-future-of-gran-canaria-timeshare-in-2017

This online publication is a great source of information to the expat community and visitors in Gran Canaria, it often publishes in English, news from the Spanish press.

letter from america

Moving on from timeshare matters in Europe we published a piece by Greg Crist, the CEO of NTOA (National Timeshare Owners Association) in the USA. He explained about a timeshare donation scheme which had recently been slammed by a US Federal Judge. In this scheme, owners donated their timeshares, which were valued at high amounts and then received tax relief as charitable donations. The scheme has cost the tax man around $19.4 million.

http://insidetimeshare.com/u-s-federal-judge-slams-timeshare-donation-scheme/

Greg again sent over information on what was happening across the pond, with the article about combating fraud. It was very much a month of information from the USA with articles from the Orlando Sentinel and Irene Parker on Marriott facing charges of “Racketeering”.

Irene Parker submitted another article, this time on how Barclaycards are being issued by timeshare sales staff. Irene was comparing this to the scandal of finance being arranged by sales staff in Europe without the normal due diligence being carried out. We finished the US theme with Irene´s article on timeshare and politics and how it is split between the two political camps.

The Anfi Tauro Beach project again hit the headlines with the news that the current Mayor of Mogan, Onalia Bueno has been place under investigation for licences and permissions for the project. This followed on from the first prosecution and is still underway.

Also published was an article on Trustees in the timeshare industry and whether they are independent or not. This article was prompted by several enquiries from readers, with some of the content supplied by them. We also published the ongoing battle between the TCA, now under the control of Monster, with TESS. It now also involves a law firm Athena Law, who the TCA state are under “investigation”, by who was not revealed, Obviously an ongoing story.

legal clipart

So to finish the month, Canarian Legal Alliance announced another two Supreme Court victories on behalf of their clients. In the first to be announced on 26 October, their client will receive 11,806€ and their contract declared null and void. Again the court reaffirmed its position that floating weeks are illegal, this case was against Anfi.

In the second announcement made on Thursday 27 October,another Supreme Court ruling, again against Anfi. In this ruling the client has been awarded 19,000€ and again the judgement was about floating weeks. The contract was also declared null and void. This now brings the total of rulings from the Supreme Court in respect of timeshare contracts to a staggering 27, with more still waiting to be heard, so there is more of this to come.

Just as we were about to publish news came in of yet another victory at the Supreme Court in Madrid, this brings the total number of rulings from the highest court in Spain to a phenomenal 28, you can’t argue that this particular law firm is not doing what is says.

The latest ruling this time involves another resort, Palm Oasis / Tasolan, the court ruled the client was not provided with all the information required by law, this resulted in the court ruling that the contract was flawed. In this instance the contract was declared null & void with the client being awarded 10,608€ plus legal interest. It would seem the courts in Spain at least, are on the side of the consumer, it only now needs other countries to follow that example.

It now remains to see what November will bring, if it is like this month it certainly will keep Inside Timeshare Busy. Have a good Halloween night and enjoy the party.

haloween

one-drop

More News from Across the Pond

With the US Presidential election now coming to a close over the next week, Irene Parker, who collaborates with Inside Timeshare on matters which affect timeshare on both side of the Great Lake (or Pond as our American friends call it), has sent in her most recent article.

It very much focuses on the political game that is affecting timeshare in the US, showing how it splits into Republican and Democrat, as she explained, the industry is very much pro Republican, the Trump camp, the Democrats seem to be supported by the timeshare owners. We should not be surprised by this.

Irene has very often commented on the documentary “The Queen Of Versailles”, the wife of the owner of Westgate, David Siegel. It shows the 90,000sq ft property they have been building as their home. It is quite staggering, with a walk in wardrobe (sorry closet), bigger that most homes in Europe. Irene has in many writings dubbed herself “The Peasant of Venice” in contrast to The Queen. Have to admit Irene does have a great sense of humour. Irene claims it’s not humour if one studies Polish and Russian history and the need for peasant uprisings.

Irene opens her article on the New York Manhattan Club, when the Democratic New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman halted trading of timeshare. As you will see from her article, it is a very murky world indeed, the lines between timeshare and politics are blurred to say the least. Enjoy her article it reveals a lot.

Timeshare Battles Split Down Political Party Lines

October 26, 2016

By Irene Parker submitted to Orlando Sentinel

Democratic New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman made headlines taking on presidential candidate Donald Trump and the Trump Foundation. Mr. Schneiderman claimed the Foundation did not meet certain administrative requirements necessary to receive donations in New York.

In addition to challenging Trump, Mr. Schneiderman has also taken on another developer and billionaire, Bruce Eichner, and Eichner’s Manhattan Club timeshare. Mr. Schneiderman halted timeshare sales at the Manhattan Club due to allegedly fraudulent sales practices involving a “bait and switch” scheme. Manhattan Club buyers learned there was a lack of availability for those who purchased memberships, while the general public could easily book online. A court battle that began in 2014 continues today.

The New York Post unleashed an onslaught of criticisms against Mr. Schneiderman accusing him of picking his fights based on political motives.

Republican Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi created her own headlines when she accepted a $25,000 donation from Donald Trump while considering whether to participate in a Trump University investigation. Her investigation was dropped after receiving the donation.

There is an eerie similarity between Trump U and timeshare sales, illustrated in an extraordinary CNN interview between Trump U salesperson James Harris and CNN investigative reporter Drew Griffin. Not all timeshare sales agents are predatory, but complaints about overly aggressive sales tactics abound.

In the CNN interview, Harris is accused of exploiting the elderly by selling them classes averaging $34,000 and then “up selling” them to attend more classes. In rogue timeshare presentations, an average timeshare week costs $25,000 and after the initial purchase, owners are barraged to purchase additional points or weeks.

Keep Reading

conflict

TCA, TESS and Athena Law Locked in Conflict.

Since publishing the article TESS Vs The Monster back in August, there have been some new developments and Inside Timeshare has received enquiries from concerned consumers about the latest posts on the TCA website concerning the law firm Athena Law.

On 24 October the TCA published that Athena Law was under investigation regarding “leaked personal contact details of members of the MRL Action Group”. The article does not state who is carrying out the investigation, which if it was official would this not have been made clear which authority is involved.

athena-law

According to the TCA and they state they have proof, the leaked database of around 200 MRL Action Group members contains details such as:

Names, addresses, email addresses, home and mobile numbers, MacDonalds membership details such as ownership, week numbers and prices paid.

According to TCA they have received a “string of complaints” from MacDonalds owners who have signed up to the MRL Action Group, paying “hundreds of pounds” and receiving nothing but “empty promises of compensation”.

Now Athena Law is a registered law firm with all the lawyers being registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority. But the main person under attack is Stephen Boyd, who as we know restarted the TCA after the passing of Sandy Grey, along with David Cox of TESS. TESS themselves are also locked in battle with the TCA, this all started when the TCA came under the control of Mark Rowe, who is also the director behind a string of companies including Monster Travel Group.

The question is, why would a registered lawyer with a registered law firm put themselves in the position of being disbarred by leaking such information?

tca logo

We know that Athena Law and TESS did work with the TCA before the change in ownership, that TESS has published articles about Monster, which were scathing to say the least, including a transcript of a Monster presentation. This transcript say TESS is taken from a recording made by a client at one of these presentations, they also stated it was transcribed by the Ministry of Justice.

TCA also states that TESS is under investigation for commercial malpractice, again no mention of which authority is conducting this. They also state that “One of their suppliers alleges it paid TESS over £1,000,000 last year and received a shoddy service:”  Now one has to question that particular amount and what the “shoddy service” was, considering they say “SUPPLIERS”. Also they allege that many owners were promised an exit but are still receiving maintenance bills and threats of legal action for arrears. It must also be pointed out that TESS did take on clients who had signed up with Monster Leisure Credits in order to relinquish their timeshares, this in itself is not unusual as many companies will “farm out” these services to others.

tess

 

 

Once again it is you the consumer who is going to suffer the consequences of all this, a once reputable association is losing all credibility as an independent voice. Who are you now going to believe?

Sandy Grey must surely be turning in his grave!

http://insidetimeshare.com/tess-vs-monster/

Athena Law Solicitors under investigation for serious data breach

If you have any questions or require any help in deciding who to trust, Inside Timeshare will show you how to research them yourself. Inside Timeshare exists to give you the facts which will then enable you to make an informed choice. Use the comments section to make contact, we will then send you a personal email with the information you require.

homework

latest-news-1

Legal Updates and Other News

 

 

Last week ended with another Supreme Court ruling bringing the total now to 25. This particular judgement was against Palm Oasis which is in Maspalomas in Gran Canaria, it followed other rulings that contracts in perpetuity in other words over 50 year are illegal. The German client in this case will be receiving back over 10,000€ as well as his contract being declared null and void.

palm-oasis-resort

At the start of this week Canarian Legal Alliance also announced that another of their clients, again a German timeshare owner will receive 19,163€. This sum has now been paid into the court and the client will shortly be paid out. His contract has also been declared null and void.

This particular sentence was made by Court number 3 of the First Instance in Arona Tenerife against Resort Properties / Silverpoint. It followed previous Supreme Court Judgements, so it is clear that the lower courts are abiding by the rulings of the highest court in Spain. This does show that the years of painstaking work by the legal team at CLA is paying off for their clients.

The strange thing is, timeshare companies, the RDO and TATOC are still denying the fact that this is happening. They still believe their own propaganda that there are no cases, the Supreme Court has got it wrong and that owners should not listen to or believe what they hear and read.

Could this be they are afraid that their jobs might just be in jeopardy, that they are losing all credibility as an industry with consumers?

MONEY MONEY MONDAY!

On another note it also appears that members of Diamond are up in arms again, Inside Timeshare has received information that maintenance fees for the coming year are rising yet again. At first the news was that they were set to rise by around 18% but that figure has been lowered to around 13%.

According to Diamond the increase is due to the devaluation of the pound against the euro following the Brexit referendum. They also state according to our sources that they also have to pay for the points they own, so it affects their business as well. Little comfort to the members who have suffered increases year on year.

pound-euro

The explanation on how they arrived at the 13% figure is rather vague and does not make sense to those of us who are not accountants. According to the information given the budget for 2016 was £1 to 1.35€ i.e. a euro is 74 pence, for 2017 £1 to 1.15€ or 1 euro is 84 pence, so that is 17.5% difference. They then explain that as not all expenditure is in euros or only 60% this brings the actual increase to 13%.

We don’t know about you, but it sounds like a bit of accounting flannel designed to confuse. The question now must be asked if the pound gets stronger will the maintenance fees go down? Somehow we think not.

If you have any questions about these topics or any other timeshare matter, whether it is about companies you may be thinking of dealing with or have dealt with, Inside Timeshare will try to answer them for you. Contact can be made through the comments section.

europe-usa

Irene Parker: Barclay Card and Timeshare in the USA.

Back in July Inside Timeshare published the article about Shawbrook Bank setting aside around £9 million, to cover defaults in loans issued by timeshare sales staff. It announced that the bank had not carried out its due diligence in accepting these finance agreements.

The article also highlighted the ongoing high court action brought against Barclay Partner Finance for loans issued for timeshare. These were for the so called “investment” packs being sold by Resort Properties / Silverpoint. Many of the agreements were given without the normal checks being carried out in respect of the clients income or the ability to repay the loans, with many of the applications being falsified in order to get it passed.

Another aspect of the article showed the same thing happening in the USA, with people who did not qualify for normal finance, being passed to a Credit Union. In this case the company was Quorum Federal Credit Union, which would then sign them up as members. These loans accounted for around $40 million for Diamond sales.

It has now been highlighted that sales staff in the US are issuing credit cards, again it is Barclays who are in the picture. Irene Parker, sent the following article.

Barclay card by Irene Parker 10/24/16

barclay-card

There is nothing wrong with travel reward credit cards, but when consumers on vacation get locked into timeshare presentations that can last for hours; credit card lending can turn predatory.

Several banks have come under fire for overzealous sales practices. Wells Fargo and Barclays Bank through Barclays Partner Finance, along with other U.K. banks, have come under regulatory scrutiny and been the subject of lawsuits for a host of reasons, including predatory lending through the use of timeshare developer-sponsored credit cards.

Shawbrook Bank in the U.K. has admitted that it didn’t do its due diligence when approving the finance for vacation ownership products. One of its biggest partners is Diamond Resorts International, a timeshare company that has come under fire for its aggressive sales practices.

Diamond offers a Diamond Resorts Barclaycard Master Card with a 0% promotional six month APR if used for a Diamond Vacation Ownership Interest down payment, along with Diamond Resorts International reward points for other purchases. After that, it is a variable APR of 15.24%, 19.24% or 22.24% depending on creditworthiness.

Diamond Resorts International’s primary business segments are hospitality and management services and vacation ownership interest, or vacation points sales, and financing.

It is the financing component that often makes people with vacation brain sign a contract on impulse for perpetuity, not even having used the vacation service at the time of purchase. The decision is often based on how well the buyer likes the resort if they aren’t an existing owner. In other words, they may not use the booking program until the next vacation.

As an example, Arthur Saldana, 55, and his wife Sylvia, 49, have been Diamond Resort International owners for several years. They owned a deeded week at the Sunterra London Bridge Resort in Havasu, Ariz., for about 10 years prior to Diamond Resorts International acquiring Sunterra in 2007.

The couple was persuaded to give up a deeded week, one that came with a deed that has a limited secondary market, in exchange for timeshare points that are non-deeded with no secondary market. During a series of five sales presentations over a five-year period, the Saldanas accumulated 30,000 Diamond Resorts International points that elevated them to gold status in 2013.

Sylvia Saldana said that she and her husband signed many contracts, and they thought they were actually helping their children. “We thought that after we paid off the Diamond mortgage our four children would only have to pay maintenance fees,” she said.

But maintenance fees increased to the point where they could no longer afford to own their points. The family soon found that they had to charge maintenance fees to their credit card in order to pay them.

The Saldanas had already taken out a $33,000 home equity loan from their credit union to reduce the high Diamond Resorts International loan interest rate, typically 14% to 18%.

Worse, the children, now almost grown, say that they have no interest in timeshares.

At their last stay at a Diamond Resorts International resort in August 2015, Sylvia Saldana said that a sales agent tried to convince them to purchase another 10,000 points in order to achieve platinum level, which is 50,000 points (Remember they owned 30,000 points).

The sales agent explained that by being platinum, it would allow the couple to pay their maintenance fees with their points, as only platinum members are allowed to use their points to pay maintenance fees, Sylvia Saldana said.

At the time of the 2015 presentation, Diamond Resorts International’s FAQ indicated that as of that year, only platinum members could exchange points for a monetary credit toward the cost of their annual maintenance fees for their collection membership and points and/or dues for the club.

A Diamond Resorts International representative who gave her name as Pamela — these reps aren’t allowed by the company to provide their last names — confirmed that “only platinum members can use their points to pay maintenance fees. Any member can open a Barclaycard to pay fees.”

When we purchased our Diamond Resorts International contract, we were told that the practice of using points to pay maintenance fees isn’t encouraged due to the point value being reduced to pennies on the dollar if used to pay maintenance fees.

The sales agent aggressively tried to persuade the family to open a Diamond Resorts International credit card to pay for the additional points, despite the fact that they couldn’t afford the fees, Sylvia Saldana said.

Arthur Saldana became so angry, he left the presentation.

Fortunately, the couple realized that the credit card wasn’t a prudent solution to their problem.

Keep Reading

trust02

Trustees: Independent or Part of the Problem?

For many timeshare owners the belief is that the trustees who hold their ownership in trust are independent, but this does not appear to be the case.

 

Information is coming to Inside Timeshare from various sources and our own research, which show there is a possible conflict of interest between one major trustee and the resorts management companies. If this is indeed the case, then there is no independence, the trustees are part of the industry and a conflict of interest does actually exist.

 

One example is the Alanda Club Marbella SL, one of the directors is Phillip Broomhead, who also happens to be a director at FNTC (First National Trust Company). (see pdf links) This club is also part of the Alanda Group of companies which the ONA Group acquired around 2011.

alanda-club-marbella-sl_-datos-identificativos-y-financieros-_-infoempresa

alanda-club-marbella-sl_-identifying-and-financial-data-_-infoempresa

So, when the ONA Group acquired Wimpen, the FNTC would have been duty bound to have advised the owners of the fact that a ”conflict of Interest” had now arisen. With this particular link it does appear that FNTC were no longer “independent trustees”.

 

To the Wimpen owners, it appears that Phillip Broomhead is the link between Wimpen and the ONA Group. The owners committee, from information received wanted a transfer of Trusteeship to another company Hutchinsons, but it appears that FNTC refused to transfer this. This does beg the question, is it because the FNTC do have a “Conflict of Interest”?

 

One source also passed on some of their own research, this led to the “Panama Papers” where they found that the owning companies of their club weeks were: FNTC First Nominee and Second Nominee.

 

FNTC First Nominee Ltd is also listed as a shareholder of Regency International Services Ltd, alongside Mossack Fonseca with the intermediary being First Names Group. As we know the Regency Palace Hotel and Club had to close down for tax reasons, with Luis Comacho being prosecuted for failing to hand over more than 15 Million Euros to the Portugese tax authorities. He has also been barred from holding any directorships.

 

The trustees who hold the owners weeks are FNTC, it is alleged that they were either ignorant of the fact or even complicit in the events which befell this hotel. Apparently many owners have been met with a wall of silence and have not received any help when contacting FNTC. How many of these owners have lost all their rights?

 

FNTC also have an involvement with Club Jardine del Puerto in Puerto Banus, with many problems befalling the owners at this resort. This particular resort has caused the owners many, many years of grief, it was also the subject of an investigation by the late Sandy Grey.

 

One incident is when the founding members tried to stop an AGM, with Phillip Broomhead of the FNTC representing the founding members, claimed that the AGM was illegal. This followed the move by Declan Kenny also of FNTC, to persuade the club to sell back around 650 weeks to one of his suggested enterprises. FNTC also backed the sale of weeks as “floating” and as we know under Ley 42/98 of the Spanish Timeshare Act, these weeks are illegal. This has been verified on several occasions by the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, the highest court in the land!

 

It must also be pointed out that the present CEO of the RDO is one Paul Gardner Bougaard, who was also once a director of FNTC. FNTC are also an RDO member and therefore should be subject to the code of conduct and ethics. Somehow this does not look like the case.

 

So the question of independence of the trustees from the industry, does look very dubious indeed, it is up to you the reader to decide. But do bare in mind this is the first of many articles on this subject, as more information comes to light through research and information received it will be published here.

 

If you have any information on this article or any timeshare matter or have any questions, contact us through the contacts section.

new tauro beach

Mayor of Mogan Under Investigation into the Anfi Tauro Beach Project.

Continuing on from the article published on 7 October, regarding the first prosecution of the head of the coastal authority, Nueva Canarias Mogan issued another twist.

 

It now looks like the Mayor of Mogan, Onalia Bueno is now under investigation for granting a licence which apparently had expired. It now looks as if unlawful acts have been committed in the execution of the regeneration work at Tauro Beach. This work is being carried out for the Anfi Group, who have plans to build new hotels and a shopping mall as well as a marina with around 500 berths.

Onalia Bueno laying the first sand (right)

We know that the local residents have bore the brunt of the problems, with homes being flooded by the tides back in August. They have also lodged formal complaints with the Guardia Civil in respect of the damage caused.

 

This whole project to create a manmade beach, does appear to have been beset with what might be called irregular procedures, the granting of licences after the work had started and falsifying documents after the fact. It was the Guardia Civil Nature Protection Unit (SEPRONA), who originally instigated the investigation and made this public.

gc-seprona

It would seem that this is only the tip of the iceberg, with possibly more prosecutions to come as the investigation progresses. Inside Timeshare will keep you posted as this story develops.

 

https://www.facebook.com/Nueva-Canarias-Mog%C3%A1n-185892306754/?fref=nf

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/first-prosecution-tauro-beach-project-filed/

 

tribunal-supremo

Twenty Five Supreme Court Rulings and Rising.

Last week ended with another ruling from the Supreme Court, this week has seen yet another, bringing the total to 25. This is unprecedented in the Spanish Legal system, the latest is once again against Anfi, bringing the total against this one timeshare operator to 20 rulings in favour of the purchasers of their product.

 

The latest victory for the clients of Canarian Legal Alliance have had their contract declared “null & void”, with Anfi being ordered to repay 29,544€ including legal fees and interest.

CLA Logo

Then at the High Court number 2 of Las Palmas, another CLA client will receive back over 25,460€ including interest and legal fees. In this instance the court made its decision on the basis of the Supreme Court rulings declaring that “floating” weeks are illegal. This is yet another bow for the resort Anfi.

 

These cases and the previous ones have been highlighted in 2 Spanish newspapers, El Diario and Maspalomas Ahora. They explain that since the start of this year, Anfi have had to repay 1.5 million euros to purchaser of their products, with 1 million having been paid out so far. This is for just 50 cases brought this year and that figure is estimated to be around the 8 million euro mark with the 200 active cases CLA have in the courts. With 300 claims waiting to be filed this sum will be around 20 million Euros

So far Canarian Legal Alliance has won around 120 cases against Anfi, with many more against other timeshare operators. So the question must again be asked why do Anfi the RDO and other companies still maintain that the decisions by the judges at the Supreme Court are in error?

 

Anfi themselves are still trying to deceive their own members by telling them that there are no cases against them, that they have not lost and that the buyout of the 50% Lyng share by Lopesan has not happened. Not only do they deny selling illegal products and peddling lies to their customers, but they are also insinuating that the news media are also telling lies. It is unfortunate that some owners are actually believing this, not realising it is a continuation of the misinformation they received when purchasing originally.

 

Along with all the investigations into the Tauro Beach project, which has taken another twist, with the Mayor of Mogan now under investigation for granting a licence which had apparently expired, (new article on this coming soon), these court rulings are certainly eating into the reputation of Anfi.

 

http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/Anfi-condenas-Supremo-contratos-timesharing_0_566594345.html

 

http://maspalomasahora.com/not/38882/el-grupo-anfi-acumula-en-2016-condenas-por-valor-de-1-5-millones-de-euros-por-irregularidades-en-el-timesharing-/

 

Once again it is congratulations to the clients and the whole CLA team for these results, the champagne corks will certainly be pooping. If you require any information about this or any other article, contact Inside Timeshare and we will be pleased to help.

marriott

Marriotts Face Charges of Racketeering.

Last week the Orlando Sentinel published a story that Marriott Vacation Club and First American Title Co. the trustee for Marriotts, are facing a class action lawsuit which alleges racketeering.

 

It involves their points system which they started in 2010, to replace the traditional weeks system, which is governed by real estate law. The suit filed by Anthony and Beth Lennen claim they had to pay fees associated with real estate, such as closing costs and recording fees, title policy premiums and real estate taxes.

 

They also claim they were forced to purchased title insurance. First America claim that the Lennens purchased this insurance of their own volition, they have also filed their own 27 page motion to have the case dismissed.

 

Marriotts attorney has also filed a 50 page reply to the lawsuit, and claims that the plaintiffs have misread the statutes they believe have been violated. He also states that the allegations are unfounded and the Marriott system complies fully with the law. Marriott are also seeking to have the dispute transferred to a state regulator to be reviewed, Greg Crist of the NTOA said he would welcome a review of the allegations by a state regulator.

 

The term racketeering is usually associated with organised crime, so these allegations are very serious indeed, especially as Marriott do have a reputation as one of the good guys in the timeshare industry, especially in Europe.

al-capone

Inside Timeshare’s American colleague Irene Parker wrote the following:

 

Timeshare and the Definition of Racketeering

 

October 14, 2016

By Irene Parker    

 

The Orlando Sentinel yesterday reported on the proposed class action lawsuit against Marriott charging racketeering. The charges stem from a lawsuit that began May of this year claiming Marriott charges fees associated with real estate without actually owning real estate.

The charge of racketeering is intriguing. According to Investopedia, racketeering is often associated with organized crime. The example used described a group of people slashing tires in a neighborhood only to have a second group, composed of members from the first group, sell protection.

There is a clear parallel to trends in timeshare. Timeshare used to be real estate when “fixed weeks” were sold. The trend towards a points based “currency” has led to cloudy definitions as to what a timeshare really is these days.

Timeshare contracts are perpetual, meaning they are designed to extend beyond the owner’s lifetime. Contracts in perpetuity are not in essence bad, according to timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group. “Perpetuity can apply to real estate or personalty. Personalty simply means personal property – something as simple as a new shirt. A primary residence or vacation home is a perpetual contract. By definition, there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem comes about in timeshare when no secondary market exists.”

This leads us back to the definition of racketeering. There is a wide assortment of timeshare scams. The practice has become so widespread, Wyndham actually provides owners with a “Scambuster’s Hotline”.

Timeshare transfer agents charge timeshare owners seeking a way out of a timeshare contract an upfront fee offering them a form of “protection” by releasing owners from timeshare contracts. The fee often ranges from $3500 to $7000 but provides a “guaranteed deed-back” of the timeshare. Transfer agent companies often have lofty sounding names like “Redemption and Release”.

What happens to the timeshare after it is transferred out of the owner’s name? The contracts are bundled 25 to 50 and sold back to developers. Some timeshare companies offer owners voluntary surrender, but the surrender is not guaranteed so owners denied are forced into the nets of transfer agents.

In an ironic twist of fate, there are double racketeering schemes in which the deed taken back is transferred to a dummy company that disappears. Thus, the timeshare resort rightfully does not honor the transfer and the surprised owner receives an invoice for maintenance fees because the transfer did not take place. The owner is out thousands of dollars while still owning the timeshare. At least in racketeering, real protection is given. It’s a sad day when timeshare becomes less honorable than racketeering.

For the original article published in the Orlando Sentinel follow the link:

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-marriott-timeshare-racketeering-20161013-story.html

If you have any questions or need any information about any article published, contact Inside Timeshare and we will try to answer them.

      

 

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