Browse Tag

FCA

Start the Week

Summary of the Royal Courts of Justice Tribunal Ruling by Judge Timothy Herrington.

This case was heard on 19 June 2018 and  revolves around a validation order made by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which validates (makes legal) loan agreements taken out by clients of Azure Resorts Malta, using Barclays Partner Finance (BPF).

The loan agreements were made by Azure Service Ltd between 1 April 2014 and 24 April 2016, with this company not being authorised as a licenced broker to arrange or introduce clients to BPF. On finding out that these loan agreements were made by an unauthorised entity, BPF applied to the FCA to have the loans validated or made legal.

This validation order was issued, affecting some 1,444 clients and could cost Barclays around £47 million.

An appeal by the clients and their legal representatives forced the FCA to apply to the Upper Tribunal Tax and Chancery Division of the Royal Courts of Justice for a hearing on the legal implications and guidance to overturn the validation Order.

On 1 August 2018 Judge Timothy Herrington issued his judgement.

He ruled that the FCA did not take into account “Client Detriment” when they issued the validation order, his ruling was that the FCA re-evaluate that decision and take into account the client detriment.

He stated that the client detriment revolves around the following:

  1. Clients were not given sufficient information as to the terms and conditions of the loan agreement required by law;
  2. There were no major credit checks made as to the affordability of the repayments such as income versus outgoings reports;
  3. The length of the loan agreements were not explained, with client under the impression that they were for two years;
  4. Clients were pressured into signing these agreements;
  5. False representations were made to clients relating to the financial impact of regulated agreements;
  6. Clients were subject to long high pressure sales tactics to purchase the timeshares;
  7. Clients were sold timeshares which were not appropriate for them;
  8. Vulnerable consumers were treated inappropriately;
  9. Concerns about commission arrangements and disclosure thereof.

The FCA must now re-examine the original validation order and take into account the client detriment statements of the borrowers.

With this ruling it makes it almost impossible for the FCA to uphold the original validation order, therefore it must overturn the previous decision and rule that these loan agreements cannot be validated and are thereby unenforceable in law.

This means that all 1,444 clients will be entitled to be repaid all the money plus all interest paid.

Once the FCA issued a cancellation of the original validation order, this will no doubt have an effect on any loan issued by a timeshare company through BPF. Although the company brokering the agreement may be authorised, the points listed above may make it possible for any loan to be contested.

This will be of significant interest to all Silverpoint clients who entered into contracts under the investment weeks scheme.

At present it is not known how long the FCA will take to issue their findings.

Latest news surrounding Tauro Beach.

The scenes witnessed a few weeks ago of the destruction of homes situated on Tauro Beach have been the subject of many news articles, the local people are understandably very angry.

The destruction was carried out by a private demolition company with a not too savoury reputation, Desokupas, who were hired by the Cazorla‘s and Anfi to clear the area which they claim they own.

This was done without any apparent court orders, which leaves us to believe that the destruction may just be illegal, even if the land is owned by the Cazorla’s.

It does leave us to wonder how the members of the Anfi resort must feel about this, that the company they pay high annual maintenance fees can behave in such a manner?

Do they actually understand what is going on?

It also begs the question how the Ambassador for Anfi David Silva, the renowned footballer and local boy must feel about how the company he represents in advertising is treating his own people and neighbours?

Click on the links below.

https://m.eldiario.es/canariasahora/sociedad/situacion-vecinos-Desokupas-chabolas-Tauro_2_799340062.html

http://canarias-semanal.org/not/23270/un-comando-de-boxeadores-peninsulares-viaja-a-gran-canaria-para-derribar-chabolas-video-/

https://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/politica/Nueva-Canarias-Ayuntamiento-Mogan-Tauro_0_800020281.html

For the full story of the whole project search Tauro Beach in the search box.

If you have any comments or questions regarding this or any other article, or if you need to find out about any company that has contacted you, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

News on Wednesday: More Warnings

We start today with another warning about the “Fake Law Firm”, Abogados Lopez, more readers have contacted Inside Timeshare with information on the calls they have received from Hope Brugge, claiming to be working for Canarian Legal Alliance.

According to our readers, many of whom are existing clients of CLA, the call is to inform them that their case is about to go to court and she needs to confirm some information before submitting the case. This is obviously a fishing call, as if you have a case with a legitimate law firm they would already have those detail and they would have been confirmed at the start.

Within a few day Hope Brugge calls again and informs the client that the case has been won and a substantial amount of money has been awarded. In order to have this money released, (yes you guessed it), Hope Brugge and Abogados Lopez need a fee to release it. The client is given bank details for a named individual to transfer the money.

The telephone numbers being used are:

0034 951 242 867 which is a Malaga code

0034 602 654 670 which is a Spanish mobile

Another number that has been used is

0044 1291 440 500 which is a Chepstow code.

If you receive any call of this nature do not be fooled by them, if you are an existing client of any law firm, contact them directly and inform them.

This is a blatant fraud, which the authorities are aware of.

Another reader has also informed us that another company has been contacting owners who purchased with Azure Resorts in Malta, using a Barclay Partner Finance loan agreements. Unfortunately the reader was not able to get the name properly so we will not speculate and guess.

According to the caller they are working with the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) to bring a “class action” against Barclay Partner Finance on the 19 June, all rather urgent wouldn’t you say?

There is a case on that date being brought by the FCA, but this has nothing to do with what this company are on about. The case is being heard at the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery) of the Royal Courts of Justice.

The case revolves around a validation order sought by BPF for loan agreements made by Azure Resorts for timeshares in Malta, it turns out that the company brokering and arranging the loans was not authorised or licenced by BPF to do so. BPF turned to the FCA to have these agreements validated. These are only for certain clients who signed these agreements between April 214 and April 2016. If you did not receive any information about this in February 2018, then you are not involved.

The FCA on the evidence made out a validation order to have the loans legally recognised, as no client had suffered the “possibility of any consumer detriment arising from the manner in which the unauthorised broker carried out its activities”.

Unfortunately, the FCA was not aware of the full facts and many clients made complaints, the FCA has now sought to have this validation order overturned in the light of these complaints and new evidence put forward by the clients.

Inside Timeshare will keep you updated as to the outcome of this hearing.

It seems that according to information from our readers, Claims Solutions Group are contacting Silverpoint clients, (which we already knew), but this time using Brexit as the reason only they can help.

According to the caller, once the UK leaves the EU, it is going to be very difficult for any owner of a Silverpoint timeshare to get out. Now why would this be the case?

Obviously it is another scare tactic, to get Silverpoint owners to take up their services, for a fee off course, to get them out of a Silverpoint timeshare. Remember Silverpoint are working with this company and FullBrook Associates.

http://insidetimeshare.com/start-the-week-new-information-on-centaurus-mediations/

Sticking with Silverpoint, another company Centaurus Mediations is also using another tactic, this time it is at their offices in Tenerife. According to our reader, they were told that Centaurus had been appointed by the court to mediate following several court cases against Silverpoint, many of these cases have been reported on these pages.

Now considering that Centaurus Mediations is part of the Silverpoint setup, using data supplied by Silverpoint, plus the fact that the courts do not appoint any company to mediate or carry out any work such as this, points to one blatant lie. Only one of the many made over the years that Silverpoint have been operating.

The one thing in common is they all state that it is only them that can get you out, well Inside Timeshare begs to differ, the court results that we have reported on show that Silverpoint is on the run. At least 45 rulings against them from the Supreme Court, rulings against them on an almost daily basis in the lower courts, with many more waiting to be heard, that is the truth of the matter.

If you have any questions or comments on any this or any other article, then use our contact page and get in touch.

Have you been contacted by any company offering you a claim or stating that a case has been won and there is a substantial amount of money waiting for you at court then contact Inside Timeshare, your information can help others avoid losing thousands.

Latest on Silverpoint or is it Signallia?

Following on from last month’s article “New Name Same Company”, that Signallia Marketing Distribution SA is the new name for Silverpoint Vacation Solutions SA. One of our regular readers Mr T, has passed on the following information which he has found while doing some of his own research.

He noticed on the Club Paradiso website that their contact address is for Signallia Group DMCC, Dubai, UAE, where it is incorporated on the Emirati Register.

http://www.info-clipper.com/en/company/united-arab-emirates/signallia-group-dmcc.aed986swf.html

Another link our tenacious reader has discovered is that the Signallia Group DMCC is a shareholder of Silverpoint Travel Limited, Lodgequest Holding Limited, Keys Concierge Limited & Vacation Finance Limited where the person with significant control (PSC) is Robert Trotta. Other directors associated with these companies are Franz Markus Deutsch and Mark Cushway. Both have been part of the Trotta empire for years.

Another company which Mark Cushway is a director is Vacation Finance Limited, which according to the FCA register has Signallia MD SA as an appointed representative. Well let’s keep it all in the family.

https://register.fca.org.uk/ShPo_firmdetailsPage?id=001b000003TzjMqAAJ.

Signallia also have a wonderful promotional video which really does sell “The Dream”, showing some exquisite resorts around the world, Just wondering if you can actually get into them? Mr T also points out that Palm Beach Club in Tenerife (a Silverpoint resort) held a presentation last October, this highlighted their “Highly personalized consulting service” given by Maurice Aronow, senior vice-president of Signallia’s commercial department.

Aronow was also a previous vice president of sales and marketing at another Robert Trotta Resort, namely Palmyra Resort & Spa in Jamaica, it was around 2011 that they launched their fractional ownership.

Jamaica’s palm-fringed beaches inspire residence club

Bob Trotta launched this resort back in 2005, but due to financial problems in 2012 it was never completed. It was alleged that Trotta had defaulted resulting in $110 million worth of debts, with the Jamaican banks putting the resort up for auction, this was unsuccessful.

http://www.travelpulse.com/news/hotels-and-resorts/potential-sale-of-jamaicas-long-shuttered-palmyra-resort-reported.html

Another company in this tangled web is Lodgequest Holdings Limited, it is a majority of Lodgequest Operations Limited. Again the names that come up are Franz Markus Deutsch, Mark Cushway and the person with significant control being once again Robert “Bob” Trotta.

The company has two resorts Twin Lakes in the Lake District and Kentisbury Grange in Devon, it is reported that the company is in the “Market” for investors. One does have to wonder is this on the “pig in a dress” fractional basis?

Why invest?

On their website they do hint at the prospect of the rental market, and the “potential” for high return on investment. They also say that by focusing on luxury, they can “ensure” the lodges will be rented for a “highly attractive rate”. Something in this is sounding all too familiar, sound like some of the promises we heard from past product sold by these people under other names.

Our thanks go to Mr T, a regular reader and also a great contributor in doing some of the research we may miss. This again goes to show that doing your due diligence will show some of the links that many of these companies don’t want you to know, the tangled web can be unravelled. Once it begins then you can make a choice, “to trust or not to trust”.

 

Chicken Soup for Timeshare´s Soul!

Chicken soup is used as a remedy whenever anyone is ill, I remember as a kid if I was under the weather mum or gran would ensure I had a bowl of hot chicken soup. Whether it did any medical good is not clear, but it did make me feel better.

The chicken soup for timeshare is a cacophony of abbreviated names, which many of us cannot work out what they stand for. I will not go for the ones on mainland Europe, for one simple reason, I don’t speak the myriad of languages we have. So here are the ones we have in the UK if you have a timeshare or consumer problem.

Firstly the timeshare ones: we have the RDO, Resorts Development Organisation, this is the trade body for the industry and represents only the industry not the consumer.

TATOC, The Association of Timeshare Owners Committees, this is supposed to represent you the owners, but as we know they are funded by the industry for the industry. Also they are in deep trouble as we saw in yesterday’s article.

Non timeshare organisations:

BIS, Business Innovation and Skills, this is a government department, in the past they are the ones who closed down several “dodgy” holiday clubs.

They also work very closely with TS, this is Trading Standards. Each county council has their own trading standards office, again they have been instrumental in closing down rogue companies.

CAB, this is the Citizens Advice Bureaux, this is an agency run mainly by volunteers who offer advice and information on a variety of subjects. Unfortunately when it comes to timeshare they will refer you to TATOC.

FCA, the Financial Conduct Authority, they deal with anything within the finance world, it is they who lay down the regulations for how businesses such as debt collecting agencies operate.

FOS, The Financial Ombudsman Service,this is a government body who is the last resort in any dispute on financial matters. For instance problems with loan agreement, credit card refunds, including complaints against debt collecting agencies.

There are plenty more but my soup pot is only small, so I cannot fit anymore in, Irene in the her article today explains the numerous ones in the US, this will be of specific interest to those in Europe who have bought in the US. You also have the right to lodge complaints there, even if you live in Europe.

 

A Survey of Administrative Remedies for the Timeshare Owner

Original by Attorney Mike Finn, Finn Law Group

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/surveying-administrative-remedies-for-timeshare-consumers-seeking-relief

Peasant Version: An Alphabet Soup of Regulators

Who are they? How can AGs, CFPB, FTC, or the BBB Help Us?

By Irene Parker – February 6, 2017

Board meet

Many timeshare owners have little or no understanding as to how to go about fostering change when business practices have degenerated to the point such practices become harmful to consumers. This article takes some of the mystery out of governmental and nongovernmental agencies offering a blueprint for consumers to follow.

Given recent actions taken by such agencies, and in light of today’s timeshare climate, we look at what’s happening and examine where we can go from here.

The Manhattan ClubNY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman halts sales.

https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/ag-schneiderman-announces-court-order-barring-sales-manhattan-club-timeshare-hotel

Arizona Attorney General $800000 Diamond Resort Settlement and AOD

https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia CoffmanHighland Resorts and Sedona Pines

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-us-attorney-general-exposes-deceptive-tactics/

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery IIIFestiva $3 million settlement

https://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/news/38312

Diamond Resorts Billion dollar lawsuitAlbright Stoddard Warnick & Albright

http://insidetimeshare.com/1billion-law-suit-diamond-resorts-international/

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Westgate investigation

https://www.buzzfeed.com/matthewzeitlin/financial-regulators-are-looking-into-americas-largest-times?utm_term=.bqeQAdL7#.whk6BDr5

$20 Million Wyndham Whistleblower award to Trish Williams

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html?_r=0

Three former Hyatt sales agents: Whistleblower lawsuit.

http://insidetimeshare.com/whistleblowers-expose-timeshare-sales-tactics/

Clearly, timeshare needs to change, so I reached out to timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group in an effort to understand how regulatory agencies work. Mr. Finn describes his writing style as “lawyerly”.  In order for me to understand an article found on the Finn Law Group “Learning Center”, I have to rewrite it. This serves as some source of consternation to Mr. Finn, but he on occasion graciously allows me to redact one of his papers so that my fellow peasants can understand the topic.

First: The Federal Trade Commission FTC

The Federal Trade Commission was created in 1914 to prevent unfair and deceptive acts or practices. The FTC does not resolve individual complaints, but provides information about the next steps a consumer may take to resolve an issue.

The FTC looks at fact patterns in an industry. Several (the key word is always several) complaints may indicate a pattern of fraud and abuse which may lead the FTC to investigate and eliminate those unfair practices.

We begin with the FTC, because many states have enacted a portion of this federal act into state law.

profit loss

The Timeshare Cycle

If a consumer encounters a rogue sales agent in the timeshare industry, the experience can be described as a vicious cycle or circle that begins with the oral representation clause used and abused by unscrupulous timeshare sales agents. Consumer complaints beginning with “the salesman said” are sadly told the timeshare developer is protected by the oral representation clause.

In some cases, as in the case of Ralph Marble, maintenance fees escalate so fast the timeshare owner can no longer afford the fee. Mr. Marble was never able to use his vacation plan because of being diagnosed with a medical condition shortly after purchase. His maintenance fees increased from $200 to $684 over eight years.

http://www.clickorlando.com/news/investigators/timeshare-woes-for-one-man-who-tried-to-cancel-after-an-illness

Voluntary Surrenders are on a case by case basis. If a timeshare owner is denied a voluntary surrender, they are often driven into the nets of timeshare “listing” or transfer agents. Some transfer agents are bogus which means the owner thinks they have unloaded their timeshare but have not. If the transfer agent is “legitimate”, the surrendered contracts are bundled 50 to 100 contracts and sold back to the timeshare developer, who in turn resells for full price. Thus the circle is complete.

After a four to seven hour timeshare sales presentation, the beleaguered buyer is poorly equipped to read the mile high stack of documents they are about to sign.

man list

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The CFPB is one of the newest government agencies created in July 2010 partly in response to the mortgage crisis in the late 2000s. The goal of the CFPB is to watch out for American consumers in the market for consumer financial products and services. The timeshare industry utilizes various financing tools in its sales practices and presentations.

The CFPB told me consumers should choose the mortgage option when filing a timeshare complaint, even if there is no mortgage. Timeshare is somewhat new to the CFPB. If the owner does not want to file a formal complaint, there is an option to “Tell Your Story”. I tell the CFPB stories almost every week.

The CFPB does publish the subject and data of the complaint, feeding its Consumer Complaint Database. Most importantly, the CFPB will report to Congress with the purpose of enforcing federal consumer financial laws and writing better rules and regulations.

As more credit card transactions involving timeshare purchases are generated, the credit card financing aspect should not be overlooked for consumers seeking a monetary resolution to their timeshare purchase issues, assuming a credit card was utilized. Diamond Resorts offers a six month 0% interest rate “Barclaycard” offer if the credit card is used to purchase a timeshare. More and more timeshare developers are acting as new credit card originators for third party financial provides such as Bill Me Later (a division of PayPal) Barclay Bank, Bank of America, and a couple of credit unions.

Unlike other regulatory agencies, companies must reply to the CFPB’s complaints or inquiries. Consumers should file their complaints with the CFPB, but expect only a modest resolution and an opportunity to be heard. However, the more complaints the CFPB receives regarding a company, practice, or industry – the more likely those complaints will be presented to Congress. Congress has the power to create new rules and regulations that can improve the market for consumers when Congress reviews and enacts new laws.

Attorneys General or State’s Attorney

An Attorney General (AG) is a publicly elected position. Every state in the US has one. The AG is charged as the chief legal officer for their respective state. The AG’s Office proclaims to protect “timeshare owners by investigating business practices” relating to the sale and resale of timeshare interests.

The AG’s Consumer Protection Division has the civil enforcement authority to investigate and prosecute violations of the state’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The Division is additionally responsible for the enforcement of the civil provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act,(“RICO”), which punishes businesses and “enterprises” conducting patterns of illegal activities within a state.

Notably, the AG by law cannot represent private citizens in legal disputes. When a complaint is filed by a consumer, and the AG investigates the alleged misconduct, the AG does not represent the consumer on an individualized basis, but rather the interest of consumers in their state as a whole.

As in the case of the $800000 settlement the Arizona AG reached with Diamond Resorts, if the Division investigates and is successful in prosecuting or settling the action, there is a potential for recovery.

Florida Department of Business Professional Regulation (“DBPR”) state regulatory agency – Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes (“Timeshares Division”)

Florida is a timeshare mecca center. The DBPR is an extension of the executive branch of the Governor, and is charged with licensing and regulating all businesses and professionals within the state. The DBPR subdivision relating to timeshares is known as the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes (“Timeshares Division”). The Florida Timeshares Division licenses and regulates timeshares through education, complaint resolution, mediation and arbitration, and developer disclosure.

The Office of the General Counsel (“OGC”) of this division represents the interests of Florida residents and does not represent individual complainants. In most cases the Department, even with successful prosecution, does not typically recover money that a consumer has lost. Many consumers rightfully wonder what the likelihood of success would be if they take the time to file a complaint.

Statistically speaking, from April, 2014 through April, 2016, the Florida Timeshares Division received 2,360 complaints. Of those complaints, only 110 resulted in action by the Florida Timeshare Division – less than 5%!

The Better Business Bureau BBB

The Better Business Bureau is not a regulatory agency. It is a nongovernmental nonprofit that serves to promote a community of business that consumers can trust. The BBB does not solve consumer disputes. Success is not based on the outcome, but whether the business responded or not.

The BBB rating rates only how cooperative and responsive a business will be to consumer issues.

National Timeshare Owners Association

https://www.ntoassoc.com/

The National Timeshare Owners Association is a social purpose organization dedicated to educating, advocating and protecting ownership interests. For nearly 20 years, the NTOA has worked to ensure owners have access to resources available to them. As the oldest and largest member based association, NTOA works closely with other industry associations and stakeholders such as CRDA, TBMA, TATOC, CARE and FTOG. NTOA’s extended relationships include 12 domestic and international developers, HOA‘s and management companies. The NTOA seeks to find solutions to some of the industry’s most complex issues.

Summary and Conclusion

What avenues, if any, exist for the unwary consumer who gets pressured into purchasing a $25,000 to $100,000 or more timeshare interest with credit at a 14% to 19% annual interest rate accompanied by a lifetime and beyond maintenance fee obligation? A thriving resale scam industry exists due to the limited and sometimes nonexistent secondary market.  

It’s not until long after the contract is signed, or if the family experiences a life crisis, they learn that the purchase contract often contains no way out. In all likelihood, the perpetual contract was signed in a same day sale, after a sales presentation that lasted for hours. The elderly are targeted, according to several lawsuit allegations.

success

Given recent regulatory decisions and legal actions, a highway of hope is under construction.  

GET INVOLVED!

To perhaps state the obvious, the timeshare industry is a well-organized and wealthy industry that has the ability to lobby for favorable laws and treatment.  Contrast this with the average consumer who is economically stretching to afford a $25,000 timeshare interest.

Contact Inside Timeshare if you would like to learn more about organized efforts to reform an industry badly in need of reform. Thank you to timeshare companies working towards a safer and owner friendly timeshare industry.

We would like to thank all contributors to this article especially Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group.

Inside Timeshare is here to bring you the latest news on what is happening in the world of timeshare, at present we are very much focused on Europe and the US. We are however working on collaborating with writers in Australia, this will bring you the news on a worldwide scale. We would also like to hear from any owners in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. You can contact Inside Timeshare through our comments section or email direct to [email protected]m

We look forward to hearing from you.

Globe flags