Following Monday’s article about Anfi Sales and Anfi Resorts hiding assets in an attempt to avoid paying back money awarded to clients in the Spanish courts for the selling of illegal contracts, they are back in the news. This time it is on Spanish national television TVE 1.
They report what we already have published and what was published in El Diario, Inside Timeshare has a recording of the news item to which has been added subtitles it has also been uploaded to Youtube.
The lawyer who is dealing with this case on behalf of Canarian Legal Alliance clients, Eva Gutiérrez is being interviewed outside one of the CLA offices in Arguineguin, with the Anfi Resort in the background. In the interview, Eva explains the reason behind the emptying of bank accounts giving the reporter all the figures. She is also seen working on documents showing the various bank accounts.
It is actually quite staggering the amounts which are in the millions of euros that are being diverted from these accounts to avoid court-ordered repayments. It is no wonder that the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office has been taking a very keen interest in this matter.
During the interview, Eva Gutiérrez also explains that CLA and their clients are urging the courts to appoint an independent administrator to oversee the accounts and the investigation. This blatant attempt we are seeing by the Anfi Group, who are also paying members of the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation) the timeshare industry trade body and governed by their code of conduct and ethics, is in the mind of Inside Timeshare possibly a criminal act.
As yet we have not seen any statement from the RDO regarding this and we very much doubt that they will even sanction them over this. So much for the trade body and their code of conduct and ethics.
This story should place no one in any doubt as to the lengths timeshare companies will go to deceive consumers, it should also remove any doubt as to the authenticity of Canarian Legal Alliance which has over the years been smeared by the timeshare industry as a criminal gang and swindlers!
Inside Timeshare knows who the real swindlers and criminals are and now so do you!
Link to the original article by El Diario with English translation in PDF format.
Further to our article about the Anfi partner IFA’s AGM published on 22 July 2019, in this article, it was revealed that IFA was subject to questions regarding all the court cases, the possible cost to IFA and what it would mean to shareholders. The article also explained how IFA is being denied any influence or information on the running of Anfi by their partners Santana Cazorla who owns the “Golden Share”. Today’s article brings in a new dimension to the tale.
The newspaper El Diario has published that The Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of Las Palmas has now filed two complaints against two of the Anfi Group Companies, Anfi Resorts and Anfi Sales. The nature of the denuncias is for hiding assets in order to avoid seizures of money in the execution of sentences issued by the courts against Anfi Group for the numerous infringements of the law in the sales of their timeshare product.
Link to the full report published by El Diario 26 July 2019. (To translate from Spanish open in google and right-click on the article selecting translate)
On 12 July, the Prosecutor Elena Herra signed the papers that send the investigative proceedings opened in January to the Court of San Bartolomé de Tirajana. This follows denunciations by two lawyers Eva González of Canarian Legal Alliance and Miguel Rodriguez Ceballos (formerly of CLA) on behalf of clients following Anfi’s failure to pay the court awarded amounts to the clients by enforcing embargos.
This process is being initiated in all cases and given the refusal of the Anfi Group to comply and voluntarily pay as requested by the courts, the court has demanded a list of all assets in order to embargo and seize the assets.
It is also alleged that since 2014 to the present millions of euros have disappeared from these current accounts with the balances being practically zero. This is despite the fact the activity of the selling of timeshare at Anfi has neither ceased or decreased as stated in the annual statements of the Anfi Group.
The information has revealed that Anfi Resorts and Anfi Sales accumulated more than 13 million euros in sales one month before the Supreme Court made its first-ever ruling establishing that no contract was to be sold for a duration of more than 50 years (Law 42/98). By December 2017 those 13 million euros had been reduced to 400,000€ and that figure has decreased even further within the last 18 months.
In this specific case, five examples of cases in which Anfi have failed to pay on sentences issued by the courts between 2017 and 2018, some of these are for sums in excess of 200,000 euros. This is despite the fact that there are in existence orders and decrees that urge the company to comply with the execution of sentences under severe penalties for serious disobedience.
The Prosecutors Office has requested that preliminary proceedings be opened in the courts regarding these facts and that the legal representatives of Anfi Sales and Anfi Resorts, members of the boards of directors for both companies in 2018, persons responsible for services be investigated as legal entities and the person responsible provide the relationship of the assets to the courts.
A second article was also published by El Diario on 28 July, in this article, it was announced that lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance on behalf of their clients have filed for a court administrator to be appointed to oversee the accounts.
According to El Diario Anfi stopped the first of three applications to the court by immediately settling with the clients and paying them what they were due. However, in the case of other clients, the court has already convened for September to try and reach an agreement to pay them if this is not settled the court will activate the option of the Judicial Administrator and embargo the accounts.
This leaves Anfi in a very precarious position as the emptying of accounts to avoid payment could lead to criminal action against the companies and the responsible persons involved. It leaves us in no doubt that the courts are taking this matter very seriously.
Link to the second article published by El Diario.
Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, todayIrene Parker gives her account on the workshop she attended at the Florida House of Representatives, regarding the Florida House Bill 435. As Sunday is St Patrick’s Day for all of our Irish friends, we couldn’t resist using the definition of Blarney in the opening graphic. After watching the recording of the Workshop, it seemed apt to use it, once you watch it for yourselves, you will understand why.
Before we go to Irene’s report some very brief news on the legal front in Spain.
In Tenerife, Silverpoint have been subject to a “cash” embargo, this is a result of a case brought by Canarian Legal Alliance for an execution of sentence on a recent case. Their senior lawyer Eva Gutierrez brought the order to the court to force Silverpoint to lodge the awarded amount with the court. This was done to ensure swift payment of the funds to the client, who will now receive 27,047.11€ plus legal fees and all legal interest.
CLA are now using this enforcement action as soon as the sentence is issued by the court. This stops any delaying tactics by the timeshare companies in making payment. It seems to be working very well.
It has also been published that the Fiscal Prosecutor in Gran Canaria, is looking into the accounts of Anfi Resorts and Anfi Sales, for the possible illegal movement of money to various accounts in order to delay the payment of funds to clients who have won cases against them.
For the Fiscal Prosecutor to be involved in this, shows that it is a serious matter, the full story can be read at the link below. Although it is in Spanish, use google and use the translate page feature.
Business and Profession Workshop held in Tallahassee March 12
Florida House Bill 435
Does it restrict the rights of citizens to retain legal counsel?
By Irene Parker
March 15, 2019
Inside Timeshare has received many complaints about timeshare exit companies, in addition to reports from timeshare buyers describing unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Critics of Florida HB 435 feel if passed this bill would restrict the ability of timeshare buyers to seek legal counsel.
Due to disclosures, we will not publish the link to the recording of the Florida HB 435 workshop held March 12, but the recording can be easily found at https://thefloridachannel.org/. Search the workshop by entering 3/12/19 Business and Professions Committee. The first 1 ½ hours is about beer and spirits distribution. The timeshare workshop can be found by fast-forwarding to the session’s last hour.
A panel composed of exit company attorneys and industry attorneys answered questions from Florida state representatives, who clearly seemed on top of the issues. Panel members included:
Jason Gamel, Sr. Vice President, Legal at Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Inc.
Shannon Zetrouer, Outside Counsel, Reed Hein and Associates
Tiffany Kimble, Director of Underwriting, First American Title’s Vacation Ownership Services Division
Wayne Halper, Esq., in-house counsel Wesley Financial Group, LLC
K.L. “Ken” McKelvey, CPA, ARDA ROC Chairman
Boyd McAdams, from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), shed light on the number of consumer complaints filed in the last few years. Previously, our figures reported 2,360 timeshare complaints filed from April 2012 to April 2014. DBPR only acted on 110 of those complaints.
The approximate figures of timeshare related complaints, as I understood the figures, are:
2016 1200 complaints 600 reported misleading information
2017 1300 complaints 700 misleading information
2018 1300 complaints 700 misleading information
2019 700 complaints 300 misleading information
Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’s Department of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 complaints in recent years, with about 50% involving senior citizens. She said the majority of complaints were in regard to the initial sales presentation.
Ms. Butler stated that the Florida timeshare division engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale. This fits with our members reporting that all timeshare complaints they submitted, DBPR responded, “Verbal representations are difficult to prove.”
Consumer attorneys matched the strength of industry attorneys. I would like to point out and dispute a few of the comments made by panel members Wyndhamattorney Jason Gamel and ARDA ROC spokesperson Ken McKelvey.
Reid Hein’s legal counsel, Shannon Zetrouer, described how a buyer, typically held for hours in a high pressure timeshare sales presentation, signs a perpetual contract, often reporting that they were given misleading information.
Ms. Zetrouer argued that Florida HB 435 would infringe on a consumer’s right to seek other legal services, such as bankruptcy, foreclosure, or estate planning advice. She feels the bill, as currently worded, is overreaching in that it would affect timeshare buyers across the nation if they purchased in Florida. “I specifically have concerns about House Bill 435. First, I think it will actually have a negative impact on consumers…It seems to infringe on the right of contracts and the right of companies to contract with consumers for relief that they [the consumers] are clearly seeking. Otherwise this industry wouldn’t exist,” said Zetrouer. “Simply put, if going to developers was an option for these consumers, then there would be no third party industry,” she added.
Mr. Gamel spoke of the 2012 Transfer Act that addressed disclosure, rescission, escrow and prohibited acts.
Ms. Kimball addressed the problems associated with fraudulent transfers.
Wayne Halper, Esq. described the criteria required to become a client of Wesley Financial Group, LLC. Wesley Financial receives 3,000 to 3,500 calls per week from timeshare buyers seeking relief from timeshare contracts. Of those initial contracts, only 150 to 200 per week are accepted as clients, because they must meet the criteria for fraud. Similar to the complaints Inside Timeshare receives, 100% of Wesley clients report being told the timeshare is an investment and will increase in value and 91% report the ability to rent will offset maintenance fees and provide an income stream in retirement.
Mr. Halper echoed Ms. Zetrouer’s comments, in that 99% of timeshares sold in America have a presence in Florida, and the bill as written would eliminate the right of timeshare members to seek the services of those offering exit services. Later in the discussion, Mr. Halper pointed out that being released from a timeshare contract can take up to three years. He felt it would be unfair to expect a provider not be allowed to charge for services performed until after proof of exit has been provided, proof not always provided.
ARDA ROC Chairman K. L. McKelvey said ARDA ROC represents 1.8 million Timeshare Owners. I have asked 742 families who have reached out to me, feeling they experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices, if they even knew what ARDA ROC stands for. Not one member could answer, yet collectively timeshare members give ARDA ROC approximately $5 million a year, often “opt-out” contributions.
Mr. McKelvey described ARDA’sResponsible Exit Industry Coalition. For my timeshare, this is nothing more than media spin. I surveyed all 64 members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. Of the 64 members, 22 members responded, saying they would not accept a listing for my timeshare company, feeling restrictions the company places on points purchased on the secondary market excessive.
In response to a question asked by Representative Randy Fine (R), asking the percentage of Wyndham’s marketing costs; Mr. Gamel thought 30 to 40%.
Let’s compare this scenario to the primary housing market. The timeshare buyer sits across from a real estate agent in most states. There is an understandable assumption a buyer would think they have the same rights as a primary housing market buyer.
What would happen to the primary housing market if:
The Buyer paid 30 to 40% upfront in commissions,
The Buyer is demanded to buy the house the same day,
The Buyer learns licensed brokers won’t accept a listing to sell their home should they need to sell.
Committee member Representative Michael Gottlieb asked about “Adhesion” – meaning a timeshare contract cannot be changed, so why should someone need to talk to a lawyer before signing a contract, because you can’t change the contract anyway. The reason is because buyers are exhausted after an hours long high pressure sales session, signing a perpetual contract without being allowed adequate time to review copious and complicated documents. Not only attorneys, buyers are discouraged from seeking advice from a mom, dad, son or daughter. Sales agents are trained on how to defer this request, according to numerous current and former sales agents. Not being allowed 24 hours to think about a perpetual purchase, spending anywhere from $20,000 to $150,000 highlights the unfair in unfair and deceptive practices.
There have been many Attorneys General investigations and lawsuits concerning unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Former Wyndham sales agent and whistleblower Trish Williams was awarded $20 million after reporting deceptive sales practices, and a recent Florida whistleblower lawsuit was filed November 2018 on behalf of ten former Wyndham sales agents and employees, working at Wyndham’s Florida Clearwater Beach Resort. Buyers need to beware of potential deceptive timeshare sales practices.
Buyers sign perpetual timeshare contracts accompanied by rising maintenance fees. Often existing members are sold additional points, promised maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist. The lack of a viable secondary market exacerbates the problem. Wyndham lists a viable secondary market as a risk to their stock market investors in their 10k reports.
Clearly, as Committee Chairwoman Heather Fitzenhagen stated, timeshare is a thorny issue. Let’s hope actual member voices can be heard in future sessions.
On Tuesday, our reader data can easily address concerns expressed by Mr. McKelvey and Mr. Gamel:
We seek to provide timeshare 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.
Contact Inside Timeshare to let your voice be heard.
Inside Timeshare did have trouble locating the recording mentioned in paragraph two of Irene’s report, so Inside timeshare has provided a direct link to it in order to assist readers, the relevant part starts at approx 1:45:50