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Björn Lyng

letter from canada

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

breaking news

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/

 

breaking news

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/

 

anfi ariel view

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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