Browse Tag

Björn Lyng

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

In this weeks Tuesday Slot, Irene Parker takes a look at an old friend of Inside Timeshare, the National Timeshare Owners Association, which is now known as the Association of Vacation Owners. The CEO is still our old friend Greg Crist, who was also interviewed by Irene.

Before we go on with Irene’s article we once again highlight the many calls our readers are receiving regarding “claiming compensation” for their timeshares. As usual these calls require a meeting at an office to go over the claim. These are usually enticed by the words “No win No fee”.

But once there, the owners are then told the only way to claim is only once the contract has been cancelled. This is where they are then told that to do this it will cost thousands of pounds!

In many cases we have seen the “client” is then told to just stop paying the maintenance fees, then as we have seen with RSB Legal clients 18 months down the line they find that they are not out of their timeshare and now have arrears in maintenance fees.

AS we highlighted yesterday, just from the number of enquiries Inside Timeshare has received, the amount lost buy these clients is well over the £100,000 mark. So we can only guess the amounts for around 2 years of trading with hundreds of clients, the figure must be mounting now into several million pounds!

Just recently it has been announce that a Norwegian TV company is about to start filming a new TV series called Crimeshare. It will be centered around the late Norwegian businessman Bjorn Lyng and his Anfi dream in Gran Canaria. The series will also highlight many others in this murky world including the late John “Goldfinger” Palmer and his Tenerife empire. It is proposed to be aired early next year, we certainly look forward to seeing that. Follow the links below for further information, open with google and use translate.

http://www.canariajournalen.no/Nyheter/Historien-om-Anfi-del-Mar-og-Bjoern-Lyng-blir-krimserie-Crimeshare

http://www.abc.es/espana/canarias/abci-lanzan-serie-nordica-sobre-mafia-turismo-canarias-201805011258_noticia.html

Canarian Legal Alliance has also hit the press, Guiade Prensa or Press Guide has published a short article titled “Leaders in Europe in lawsuits of ‘timeshare’”

This can leave no doubt that despite the attempts of others to discredit this law firm, they are legitimate and are doing what they say. Inside Timeshare has published many articles showing their cases, from the lower courts right through to the Supreme Court, even showing the court documents which are easily verified.

http://www.guiadeprensa.com/app/webroot/razon/tribuna_derecho2018/cla.html

At the end of April it was announced that Marriott Vacations have bought out ILG Inc, for a whopping $4.7 billion. What this will mean for ILG members has yet to be seen, but no doubt our readers from across the Great Lake will keep us informed.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ilg-m-a-marriott-vaca/marriott-vacations-buys-ilg-in-47-billion-timeshare-merger-idUSKBN1I10ZX

https://wtop.com/business-finance/2018/04/marriott-timeshare-business-plans-4-7-timeshare-acquisition/

Now we move on with this weeks article from Irene.

Association of Vacation Owners

Mission Statement

We vow to relentlessly advocate for improvements – from protection and preservation to expansion and enrichment – to the vacation ownership experience. Our commitment to these efforts will continuously strengthen and support the relationships between the vacation-owner community and the industry at large, ensuring the viability of vacation ownership for generations to come.

By Irene Parker

May 11, 2018

Inside Timeshare considered the National Timeshare Owners Association a friend and an ally working toward a better relationship between the timeshare developer and the member. At Inside Timeshare it seems we are frequently at odds, except in steering members away from the nets of timeshare listing, transfer and resale predators. No one should pay upfront money to get out of a timeshare, or list a timeshare, without carefully vetting the person offering to help. Contact Inside Timeshare or AVO before paying anyone to get you out of your timeshare.    

National Timeshare Owners Association is now assimilated into the Association of Vacation Owners AVO.

Excerpts from Perspective Magazine, explaining the metamorphosis:  

National Timeshare Owners Association has a new name: The Association of Vacation Owners (AVO). “We are very pleased to expand our alliances to include credible organizations that share our vision to improve education, engagement and support for timeshare and vacation owners” said Gregory Crist, CEO.

The membership based organization is now seeking industry partners who will commit to the AVO Service Pledge and will vow to relentlessly advocate for improvements in communication, protection, and preservation of vacation ownership.

“AVO is also attracting thousands of vacation owners by continuing its twenty-year history of dedication and focus on providing owners with the tools and information they need to strengthen their ownership experience”, continued Crist.

In March 2018, we transitioned from NTOA to the Association of Vacation Owners (AVO). In that transition we find a stronger mission and one that comes with greater collaboration and partnerships in the VO community including working closer with TAG, ,Timeshare Advocacy Group™. TAG is independent and focused on some very disturbing issues. This is important work and we thank all of you for volunteering such time and energy to TAG and to the community.

AVO is a social purpose organization dedicated to educating vacation owners and advocating on behalf of its owner/members. AVO participates in major industry conferences, is involved in the leadership of the Canadian Vacation Ownership Association (CVOA) and is a consumer member of various industry trade associations including: ARDA, AMDETUR, ASUDESTICO, and C.A.R.E. To learn more, visit our website at AVOworldwide.com or email: [email protected] | Toll Free: (833) 2ASK-AVO

http://perspectivemagazine.com/0703201810424/ntoa-to-become-the-association-of-vacation-owners-avo

I asked Greg what specific areas should TAG and AVO focus on to make the timeshare world a better place?   

“AVO is committed to finding solutions to tough industry challenges like the secondary market. The secondary market, or lack of, is the Elephant in the timeshare room. It is at the top of the list when addressing member concerns so heads our list of top five priorities.”

  1. Resale
  2. Rental and Exchange
  3. Trade and Transfer
  4. Divestment
  5. Redevelopment

Inside Timeshare will be devoting upcoming articles to each of these topics separately, topics meaningful to both owners/members and the developer, albeit from different perspectives. Change is good and members are mobilizing to affect reform. Like any social cause, it doesn’t come easy and it requires meaningful discussion from both sides of the vacation fence. We should all want the same outcome – a Great Vacation!

Members are helping members. If you need free help about a timeshare concern, contact a member of one of these self-help sites Inside Timeshare is convinced is not industry influenced. One member’s recent comment, “I can’t believe I can actually talk to someone!?”

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Thank you Irene and also Greg, Inside Timeshare wishes you all the best in your work to improve the lot of timeshare owners, we also look forward to reporting on your successes.

Don’t forget if you are contacted by any company regarding resale or claims and you are not sure who or what they are, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Inside Timeshare also thanks those readers who send in the information to share with others, by working together and sharing information it will help others to keep their hard earned cash in their own pockets and not in the pockets of the rogues.

Friday’s Letter From Canada

Welcome to the first Friday’s Letter From Canada, Inside Timeshare is pleased to give a warm welcome to Club Intrawest Owners Group who have contributed this week’s article. As Usual we start off by looking at the European timeshare scene.

At the moment, which is nothing unusual for this time of year as it is rather quiet, that will change after the summer holidays when the maintenance bills start to arrive. That is when we start to see a lot of new or resurrected bogus companies start to appear.

bogus clipart

On the legal front, the courts in Spain have been very busy, with an almost daily announcement of cases being resolved. At the moment there seem to be two companies in the firing line, Anfi in Gran Canaria and Resort Properties / Silverpoint in Tenerife.

Anfi, which was the dream project of the late Norwegian Bjorn Lyng, who wanted to build a resort which was pure luxury, has for some time been on the receiving end of many claims for breaches of the timeshare law.

Many of these, involve the taking of deposits within the statutory 14 day cooling off period, contracts with a duration of more than 50 years and the floating weeks and points systems.

This week the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas has ruled on two case to the value of 44,131€ and 35,485€ respectively. In both cases the contracts have been declared null & void.

Resort Properties / Silverpoint have also had several rulings against them this week.

The first was at the Court of First Instance in Arona Tenerife, the judge ordered the return of £22,736, this was followed by a Supreme Court ruling with the judge ordering the return of 37,400€.

Tenerife

We then had another Court of First Instance ruling of around 25.000€ and as we go to print our sources in Madrid have informed us of another 3 rulings by the Supreme Court. At the moment we have no idea of the amounts involved, but we do know that all contracts have been declared null & void.

On the fake law firm front, one gentleman has had lucky escape, he received correspondence from Armando Gareca Abogados, part of the Litigious Abogados family, who we highlighted sometime ago. He received notification to pay the initial procurador fees to get the case into court, but something made him suspicious. He did a search on the internet and found the articles posted on this website about them.

Needless to say he realised he was about to be the victim of an elaborate scam and has not gone ahead. He sent a message of thanks as this has saved him not only a substantial amount of money, but a lot of stress. This does go to show that you must do your homework before engaging with any company, especially if they have contacted you with a story that sounds too good to be true.

homework

Tauro Beach

The Anfi man made beach project.

It has been awhile since we had any news on this sorry subject, so here is the latest.

As we previously reported the beach has been fenced off denying access to the public, with security guards and police removing anyone who entered the beach. Although recently massive crowds have flocked to the area in defiance, a new strategy has now been implemented.

This new move has also had the impact of denying access to the homes of people who live there, all paths and access roads have now been blocked with rocks and other implements. Videos and photographs have been posted on facebook by one resident who has been campaigning against this project from the start and also published in laprovincia a Spanish newspaper.

This is another example of how a timeshare company behaves, not just to it’s own members but to the local community. It is also an example of how elected authorities view the people they are supposed to serve. Please show your support for the people and post your comments on the links.

Follow the links to view the posts from this local resident and the La Provincia newspaper.

http://www.laprovincia.es/gran-canaria/2017/07/20/grupo-anfi-cierra-acceso-playa/961620.html

https://www.facebook.com/naiana.rguezllavata/posts/1491927374183912

https://www.facebook.com/naiana.rguezllavata/posts/1492232357486747

Now on with our latest contributors.

Club Intrawest v. Canada

Club Intrawest (Embarc)Timeshare

Must Pay Millions in GST Back Taxes

Following Recent Federal Court of Appeal Decision

gavel

July 21, 2017

On July 11, 2017, In a decision that will likely affect all timeshares and owners of timeshares with properties located in Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal set aside the Tax Court of Canada’s decision in the case of Club Intrawest v. Canada. In doing so, the Court of Appeal substituted its own decision to refer GST assessments back to Canada Revenue Agency for reassessment of GST just for services supplied in Canada in relation to vacation homes situated in Canada.  Federal Appeal Court Judges Nadon, Gauthier and Dawson agreed with the Tax Court’s finding that a principal-agent relationship does not exist between the club and its 22,000 members. This decision also confirms that members of Club Intrawest (now re-branded Embarc by Diamond Resorts International (DRI)) do not hold beneficial ownership in the real estate and equipment in vacation home resorts and do not control the Club.  The Court found that members merely own a right of occupancy in exchange for their resort points. This contradicts sales presentations, financial and marketing materials by Intrawest Corporation (“Intrawest”) and now DRI, to the effect that members have beneficial ownership of vacation homes and control the Club through election of the Board of Directors, responsible for managing the Club’s operations.  The ruling will require the club to pay reassessed GST back-taxes for tax years 2002-2007. The GST/HST tax liability for tax years 2008-2016 is unknown at this time.  All timeshare owners with vacation homes in Canada may be impacted by this decision and may also see themselves assessed for back taxes on the supply of services in Canada related to vacation homes situated in Canada.

“Based on a detailed survey answered by more than 400 members, I expect that the majority of our members will be shocked and disappointed that the court found that members have no beneficial ownership in the vacation homes.  About 79% of them remember being told by Intrawest and DRI sales representatives they would own a real estate interest in the resort properties. About 91% of members also remember they were explicitly told that members controlled the Club and that resort properties were vested in a trust for the benefit of members. The Federal Court of Appeal now tells us that no evidence was produced that ownership of these homes has been vested in a trust for the benefit of members”, says Patrick Cormier, Volunteers Team Leader of the Club Intrawest Owners Group (Embarc), (CIOG) a grassroots movement of over 3400 members.  “However, it seems clear that the Intrawest/DRI-dominated Board of Directors anticipated the GST liability all along since it began accumulating a C$14 million reserve from members’ resort fees under a 2011 Board resolution without informing members until the CIOG raised the GST issue with the Board in 2016”.

Club Intrawest was established by Intrawest Corporation in 1993 as a stand-alone not-for-profit Delaware corporation, but with Intrawest in a controlling position. Intrawest ensured they had control of the Club in several ways, including by granting themselves (as “Declarant” member) a 15 times voting power advantage over individual members guaranteeing Intrawest and now DRI, ongoing and complete control over all aspects of the Club.  In addition, Intrawest and now DRI voted in their own employees on the Club’s Board of Directors to maintain a controlling majority on the Board, hired themselves as manager and pay themselves a guaranteed 10 to 15 per cent management fee on all financial transactions.  Club Intrawest (Embarc) members have no control of the club or effective means for recourse, even though members, other than DRI, own 95 per cent of the timeshare points.

About the Club Intrawest Owners Group (Embarc), (CIOG)

The CIOG is a grassroots movement of over 3400 members who are banding together seeking fairness and transparency in their Club’s operation for all 22,000 members.  The CIOG is disputing and challenging unfair actions of Intrawest Corporation, Diamond Resorts International and their domination of the Club’s Board of Directors and Management Company. The CIOG came together as a volunteer group in December 2015, following Intrawest’s announcement of the sale (without member input) of Club Intrawest’s management to DRI. Following the sale, DRI rebranded the club to Embarc and fully controls the not-for-profit timeshare.  For more about the group, visit

www.citheownersgroup.org.

Judgment of Federal Court of Appeal:  see link

http://decisions.fca-caf.gc.ca/fca-caf/decisions/en/item/232795/index.do

canadian flag

Clearly this is an evolving story. Inside Timeshare will continue to monitor and report ongoing developments.

Other member sponsored Diamond Advocacy groups include:

DRIP launched by over 1,000 British Diamond members

http://drip.enjin.com/

Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Group and because timeshare concerns are bigger than any one resort Timeshare Advocacy Group ™

We seek to provide Diamond Resort members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

Some of the points in this article regarding the judges decisions are very similar to those from the Supreme Court in Spain. Especially on the system of “points”. The Spanish Courts also agree that they are not owners but members with only a right to use, it makes us wonder if the Spanish rulings may have had an effect on this?

Anyway thank you to our Canadian cousins or should we say “Canucks”, we look forward to more contributions from you. Also a great big thanks to Irene who is helping to make this happen. It is through articles like this we make the world smaller and help timeshare owners no matter where they are. So welcome to the global timeshare family from, The Philippines, Australia, USA and Europe. We now need some from South Africa!

Have a good weekend and don’t forget to do your your homework!

weekend cat

Lopesan Buy Out the Lyng Family´s 50% of Anfi.

So it has finally happened, the news broke yesterday afternoon that Ragnar Lyng, the heir to the late Bjorn Lyng founder of Anfi, has sold his 50% share to Lopesan IFA. It is reported that Lopesan has paid 41.3 million euros with the papers having now been signed.

The deal has been on the cards for around ten years, since the death of his father none of the Lyng family have lived in Gran Canaria. All of the legal problems that have beset the partnership with Santana Cazorla have been bitter and very public. There have been battles over control of the board, court cases involving millions of euros which have been diverted to the Cazorla Group, as well as a long running court battle which also involved Lopesan.

 

The newspaper La Provincia 7/2/2013 reported that Santana Cazorla provided a Promissory note to avoid foreclosure of ANFI by Lopesan who claimed a debt of 14 million euro. Lopesan claimed the ANFI Group owed 14 million euros for the land in Tauro purchased from the Cardenas family. Lopesan claimed it was owed this as they had bought a Cardenas debt.

The Lopesan Group is well known on Gran Canaria, it has many hotels which are of a very high standard, 3 of which are located in Meloneras. Lopesan has no timeshare interest and are purely a hotel chain, so this begs the question what are their plans? Will the Anfi resort become another all inclusive, what is going to happen to the timeshare owners?

 

Over the past 18 months Anfi have been beset with severe legal problems, the Supreme Court has made a staggering 17 rulings against Anfi. These cases which have been brought on behalf of purchasers of the Anfi timeshare product by the local law firm Canarian Legal Alliance, has cost the Anfi group millions of euros. There are still over 100 cases waiting to be heard by the Supreme Court, with hundreds more pending at the lower courts.

 

Along with the investigations into the Tauro Beach project, which has already resulted in the head of the Canarian Coastal Authority being sacked, there is the possibility of more court cases of a much more serious nature in the pipeline. Could all this be the reason that Santana Cazorla himself has “retired” to Morocco as published in a previous article, the fact one of his bitterest rivals is now a 50% shareholder, along with the possibility of charges over Tauro Beach, does make it look like he has actually “done a runner”.

 

The main question now is what is going to happen in respect of the Anfi members, will this new partnership of “enemies” have an effect on the resort? Are Anfi still going to be selling its product, or is the sales side going to close? These and many other questions will eventually be answered and Inside Timeshare will publish the news as it comes in.

 

Search Anfi for all the articles previously published, click on the links below for some of the main events.

 

If you have any questions about this subject or any other article contact Inside Timeshare and we will try to answer them.

 

http://thecanarynews.com/anfi-del-mar-sold-to-ifa-for-e41m/

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/great-anfi-battle-partners/

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/anfi-boss-cazorla-going-morocco-retirement-escape/

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/irregularities-anfi-tauro-beach-project/

 

Anfi Boss Cazorla Going to Morocco: Is it Retirement or Escape?

El Diario a Spanish Daily newspaper has today published news that Santiago Santana Cazorla, the 50% shareholder of the Anfi Group is moving to Morocco for “retirement”. Their headline is Santana Cazorla se refugia en Marruecos” or Santana Cazorla takes refuge in Morocco. (see links at foot of page).

eldiario

Cazorla himself puts it down to starting a new phase in his life with new business projects, but within the business world it is seen very differently. Some of the explanations are somewhat different, it is widely believed it is down to the endless succession of problems he is facing, not only within his company but also it seems his private life.

 

It is known that he has had many conflicts with his brother Manuel, and various lawsuits have taken place. One is still in process, this involves a corruption scandal known as the Gondola case, it has been ongoing for around ten years at the court of San Bartolomé de Tirajana. This case has been in the hands of around a dozen judges and several prosecutors.

Santiago Santana Cazorla
Santiago Santana Cazorla

 

 

 

 

 

His involvement with Bjorn Lyng began during the development of Anfi Tauro, Cazorla purchased 50% of the Anfi company as Lyng needed investment for his Project of Anfi Tauro. This has presented many disputes between the partners over the years, the most notable was the lawsuit brought by the Lyngs over the misappropriation of funds. The Lyngs instigated criminal proceedings at The Court of Instruction No 3 of San Bartelomé de Tirajana, after it was discovered that around 9 million euros had been diverted to the Cazorla company Hermanos Cazorla, it was said that these funds were used to pay private debts. This money had to be replaced to avoid criminal proceedings so is basically on hold.

 

It has also been suggested that Cazorla is selling off his 50% share of Anfi, it is rumoured that Alfredo Morales may be the buyer, this has been sparked off by the relationship between him and the Director General of the Anfi Group José Luis Trujillo. Morales is also a shareholder of Binter Canarias, the Canarian Airline. This will no doubt please the Lyng family to be rid of Cazorla, after all on many occasions they have tried to oust him from the board, which he controls (see link Battle of Partners).

ANFIDELMAR, (MOGÁN), 30-08-2006, FOTOS: SANTI BLANCO. ENTREVISTA A JOSÉ MANUEL SORIA, PRESIDENTE DEL CABILDO DE GRAN CANARIA.
José Manuel Soria during his stay at Anfi

It is the projects at Anfi Tauro and now the Tauro Beach project that has been the cause of many of his headaches. The first notable scandal was the Salmon case, this involved the then head of the Canarian Government José Manuel Soria and involved his trip with Bjorn Lyng, flying by private jet to Austria for a concert and then on to Norway for salmon fishing. Hence the name of the case. Then staying as a guest at Anfi del Mar also courted controversy. At the time the Anfi Tauro Project was about to undergo considerable streamlining, permissions would not be granted unless this happened. Just after this trip and holiday at Anfi the project was given the go ahead by the government in its entirety, with no streamlining. A reporter then made a denuncia against Soria for corruption, the judge in the case due to certain senior Anfi management testimonies found no case to answer. Again this caused major uproar in the press and in local communities.

 

Now we have a possible corruption scandal about to erupt over the Tauro Beach Project, which Inside Timeshare has been highlighting over the past few weeks (search Tauro Beach). The project involves the creation of a man made beach, boardwalk, shopping center and marina at the Barranco de Tauro, this is being constructed by the Cazorla Construction Company on behalf of the Anfi Group. It involves the importation of 70,000 tonnes of sand from the Sahara, it has also caused many problems for the local residents. It was only at the beginning of August the high tides began overflowing the beach and flooding local homes, had there been a storm at sea coupled with the high tide the situation would have been worse.

gc-seprona

The Guardia Civil Nature Protection Unit (SEPRONA) have  instigated an investigation which resulted in the dismissal of the head of the Canary Islands Coastal Authority José Maria Hernández Leon. The local residents of Tauro have also made formal complaints to the Guardia Civil over the flooding, which the Guardia are now investigating. This particular episode is still in the early stages and may cost the Anfi Group dearly.

 

So the question has to be asked, is this “retirement” or is he fleeing in order to escape the consequences of his actions? After all he is no stranger to scandal, accusations of corruption and lawsuits. The Anfi empire is certainly in disarray, with the scandal erupting over Tauro Beach, then there is the matter of all the court cases for mis-selling and illegal contracts. They have already lost millions of euros in the past year alone, also having 17 Supreme Court judgements against them, with hundreds more in the pipeline.

 

Could it be you the members of Anfi who may just be more victims in all this, what happens if these scandals become full blown court cases? Will you be lumbered with special levies to cover lost money or will you just lose your membership? Only time will tell.

 

If you have any questions or comments about this or any timeshare matter, contact Inside Timeshare and we will try to answer them for you.

 

http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/topsecret/Santana-Cazorla-refugia-Marruecos_6_549155083.html

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/great-anfi-battle-partners/

 

The Great ANFI Battle of the Partners.

anfi logo

What is actually happening at the ANFI Group

 

Apart from newspaper articles in the Spanish Press very little is being said, it appears the members are being kept in the dark. Well I suppose this is nothing unusual in the timeshare industry.

 

ANFI is owned by two factions on an equal 50/50 basis, on one side are the Spanish owners:

 

Santiago Santana Cazorla who is also the president, his Brother Manuel and Anfi Group CEO Arturo Ramirez.

Santiago Santana Cazorla Santiago Santana Cazorla

Then there is the Norwegian part of the company represented by the heir to the late Björn Lyng, his eldest son Ragnar Lyng.

 

It appears to have originally started around 2010 When the Norwegian family demanded Sr Cazorla´s resignation. All seemed to be well and no real arguments ensued. Then sometime between 2012 and 2013 it appears that around 8 million euros “disappeared”.

 

Apparently the Lyng´s noticed the diversion of these funds while a lawsuit was pending between Santana Cazorla and Lopesan at The Court of the First Instance No1 of Las Palmas.

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