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Azure Services Ltd

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to a rather late publication of The Tuesday Slot, today we highlight another “company” that has been contacting timeshare owners, unfortunately, there is not a lot of information to go on. We also bring you some news on the Barclays Partner Finance battle and the loan agreements brokered by Azure Services Ltd. Plus, another loss in the courts for Club la Costa.

We begin with Atlas Business Consultants which our readers have notified us that they are receiving calls from this “company” regarding their timeshares and more specifically the loan agreements.

Now, the first thing to mention here is that they seemed to know that the clients had taken out loan agreements, so that does lead us to question where this information has come from. It certainly points to a breach of Data Protection Regulations.

As for the company, there appear to be several companies which have a similar name, but none of them has anything to do with Timeshare. In fact, they all appear to be based in the US or Singapore.

There is however an entry in the UK Company Register for a company called Atlas Business Consulting UK Ltd, but this company was dissolved back in 2016. The nature of their business was Recruitment Agency and was previously called Recruitment Consultants (NW) Ltd. So I do think we can rule that one out unless these people have pilfered their name!

So far we have no website and nothing found which points to this being a genuine company, so once again this is a very important reminder of how vigilant you must be when receiving any calls regarding your timeshare.

Moving on to the Barclay Partner Finance story and Azure.

As we have stated in previous articles there is a Facebook Group which is co-ordinating complaints for those who were brokered BPF loan agreements by Azure which is subject to the validation order by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Their campaign is well underway with Data Subject Requests being sent to BPF by all those affected. These are also being backed up with letters to each client’s local MP along with copies to the Prime Minister. So far the response from the MP’s has appeared to be a good one, but as always time will tell.

The one annoying aspect of this are the Data Subject Requests, BPF is stating in their replies that they cannot “verify your identity or find the address in our system”

Well, that is the lamest excuse I have ever heard, especially when the loan agreement account number is also given!

There have also been a couple of other developments which we are unable to publish at this time, suffice it to say that BPF certainly knows they are now sitting on a very big powder keg.

Let us hope this resolves the problem of loan agreements brokered by timeshare companies as a whole and not just Azure.

Although the Fb group was started for Azure clients, they are also accepting members who have other resorts with loans attached. You can find them on FB under Azure Malta Action and Support Group.

Yesterday the news came in from the Court of First Instance Number 1 of Arona Tenerife and a case against Club la Costa.

As we know these cases are not straight forward, CLC has continually appealed to the courts that they do not have jurisdiction, that the contracts are subject to UK law and UK Courts. Once again the judge in this case roundly rejected that claim and invoked the rulings from the Malaga High Court that Spanish law takes precedence and that they do have full jurisdiction.

The courts ruled that as the purchase was made in Spain, paid the initial “illegal” deposit in Spain and they signed the contract in Spain, then they are entitled to the full protection of Spanish Law.

In this case, the court declared the contract null and void and awarded the client 25,383€ plus legal interest. This was broken down as the payment of the contract of 7,755€, plus an additional 17,627€ for the illegal taking of a deposit within the statutory cooling-off period.

The Norwegian client was represented by lawyers of Canarian Legal Alliance, so that is another feather in their caps against Club la Costa.

That is all for today if you require any information on your legal rights and options or you need help to determine if a company is genuine, then please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

The Tuesday Slot: FCA, BPF and Azure Recap

Following on from yesterday’s article, Inside Timeshare has already received many comments from other members who identify with our story on how they were sold the Azure “timeshare investment weeks”. Their stories are identical to those we have heard from Silverpoint clients, after all, Azure is part of the same group of companies and was the sister company to Silverpoint. What Silverpoint sold in Tenerife was soon put into practice in Malta. This also included the brokering of huge loan agreements through Barclays Partner Finance, again without the “due diligence” of the finance company over the affordability of the loans and repayments.

This is a point which the Financial Conduct Authority who is supposedly charged with “policing” the finance industry and ensuring that consumers are protected are failing miserably. All they see are the loan agreements, they have no clue as to how these agreements are sold and brokered by the very people lying about the product they are selling. The FCA fails to recognise that the sales staff will do and say anything in order to finalise the sale and that includes lying about the loans.

The regulation of credit agreements and consumer protection was originally carried out by the Office of Fair Trading, they relinquished control to the FCA as of 1 April 2014.

The OFT was not a ministerial department and was responsible for the regulation of consumer credit since 1973. When it was closed down it passed the responsibility of its various functions to other organisations and departments with consumer credit going to the FCA.

Unfortunately, the FCA does not appear to be geared up to deal with the complexities of this area of consumer protection. In a recent article published by The Mail on Sunday, This is Money page by Jeff Prestridge, he highlights the many failings of the FCA.

In two telling paragraphs, Jeff states:

“a lack of training for staff whose job is to supervise the firms under the regulator’s watch. Lax processes in place for acting upon complaints brought to its attention by the public or those working in financial services. And staff employed to monitor companies’ marketing material without formal training in how to spot anything suspicious.”

And

“Most damning, it quotes an official working for the regulator’s supervision division who admits:” ‘I don’t believe to the best of my knowledge that there is much training around how to identify financial crime.’

Link to the This is Money article.

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/comment/article-9070435/JEFF-PRESTRIDGE-FCA-let-investors.html?fbclid=IwAR3M0bPZrnghdan3Ae5zxaGP17CHfiwYQ5llR0V0ELMTzic-j9XZD_3-72E

So how are they supposed to protect consumers when their own staff have no idea what they are doing?

Is it just a rubber stamp job?

Now according to the FCA, Azure Services Ltd had been “overlooked” as an “authorised” company for the brokering of loans when they took over on 1 April 2014. If so then the Office of Fair Trading must have had them as “Authorised”, or were they?

How did they find out Azure was not authorised, did they find out themselves or was it that BPF informed them in order to have the loan agreements validated and thereby enforceable in law?

This is obviously something that needs to be investigated, along with how the FCA operates and also a full investigation into Barclays Partner Finance for allowing timeshare sales staff to broker loan agreements for timeshare sales which without the agreements would never be sold.

For all those who have purchased a timeshare with loan agreements know all too well, if it wasn’t for the swift granting of these loans by the sales staff selling the timeshare, they would never have been able to afford it. In most cases, the consumers even explained they couldn’t afford the loan, yet the sales staff lied to them about the repayments and how long the loan was for, many being told it would be for 2 years as the resale would clear the loan!

The one thing which differs from loan agreements for purchases of cars or other items is very simple, you are not required to make a decision at that moment, we all know that timeshare sales are “today and today” only. You are kept “hostage” for many hours until you succumb and sign the agreements.

Even without the usual checks!

Once the FCA recognises the fact that timeshare sales are conducted in a totally different manner to other types of sales, the sooner the practice of timeshare sales staff brokering the loans comes to an end.

It is now down to those who have been “sold” these loan agreements to start a campaign to have these agreements, the FCA and BPF investigated, putting an end to the misery that timeshare sales, BPF and now the FCA have perpetuated.

Having spoken with the moderator of the Azure Malta Action And Support Group, which was originally set up to bring Azure clients with BPF loans together, they have decided to allow any timeshare owner with a BPF loan to join the group. Hopefully bringing more people together and getting something done.

There are certain conditions to joining the group which is a closed group, if you are genuinely interested in joining then contact them via Facebook on this link:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1152657598482168

Inside Timeshare is also calling for any members who purchased from Azure with a BPF loan agreement between January 2018 and the end of 2019. This follows some information published in the Financial Times which may put the validity of those loan agreements in doubt.

Please use our contact page for any comments or questions on this or any other article published and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

Timeshare Sales, Barclay Partner Finance & The FCA

For the past couple of years, Inside Timeshare has been following the case of the Financial Conduct Authority granting a validation order for loans provided by Barclays Partner Finance, brokered by timeshare sales agents of Azure Services Ltd. This validation order was granted to BPF after the finance company found out that over 1,400 loan agreements were brokered by Azure Services who were not authorised, competent or diligent enough to broker them.

Many of the clients who signed these agreements for the purchase of timeshares, tended to be either retired or just coming up to retirement. They were lured with the wonderful patter of you are “investing in property”, “it’s not timeshare”.

There was the promise of renting out the purchased weeks, which would give an income, supposedly to cover the maintenance fees and a bit more. Then after 2 years the “investment weeks” would be sold and they would make a profit. This would cover the cost of the loan provided by Barclays Partner Finance.

Well, we all know how that story ends, remember that Azure is part of the Limora Group of companies owned by the late Robert “Bob” Trotta and was also the sister company to Silverpoint in Tenerife.

Company Participations have been likened to this!

Silverpoint, formally Resort Properties, sold the same product, in fact, it was they who originated it. They further developed the product into the Company Participation Scheme, which changed by registering the apartments for sale as “companies”. But the same idea was applied in the sales presentation, it was an investment with rental income and profit after sales when the “company” was transferred to the purchaser. (Sorry but that is the very simple version).

The vast majority of these purchases were made by loan agreements brokered by the sales staff selling the products and provided by Barclays Partner Finance.

When you consider that in the two years which the FCA is looking at for Azure clients this has affected over 1,400, the number of loan agreements financed by BPF must number in the thousands and as far as money is concerned worth hundreds of millions of pounds. Although this is just a guess it is on the figures received by Inside Timeshare on the Azure loans worth around £40 million.

We now move to the latest phase of the case, back in August 2018, Judge Timothy Herrington, ordered the FCA to re-evaluate its decision to validate the order, citing that “consumer detriment” must be taken into consideration.

Judge Timothy Herrington

Over a year later, the FCA confirmed the validation order with a provision that BPF appoints a “competent person” to investigate client detriment.

Now the appeal has been launched to overturn this decision, there is a group that has been formed to coordinate clients who are affected by this decision called Azure Malta Action And Support Group. They are a closed group on Facebook and are gaining in membership, not just with Azure owners, many others affected by the sales practices of the timeshare sales reps and their brokering of these loans.

The group has now published a letter to BPF which Inside Timeshare has placed as a downloadable link below, which demands the right to know what information was given to BPF by the broker regarding the loan application. It also calls for BPF to provide all details of any correspondence between the client and BPF.

It is a legal right under data protection and known as Data Subject Request.

This template letter is not just for Azure clients, any timeshare purchaser who was brokered a finance agreement by the sales reps with BPF or any other finance company can use it. Inside Timeshare urges you to do so, as from all the people that Inside Timeshare has spoken with none have ever provided any full financial details such as “income v expenditure” which are normal procedures especially when considering the sums involved. These reports show if the repayments are affordable and in fact, Shawbrook Bank admitted it had not carried this out several years ago.

The Azure Malta Action And Support Group along with Inside Timeshare are urging all those affected by BPF loan agreements to begin submitting these requests and then filing complaints with the FCA. Hopefully, this may force the FCA to investigate.

Unfortunately, in an article in the Mail on Sunday by Jeff Prestridge, it appears that there are some very serious concerns about the FCA.

According to the start of the article, which we must point out is also our opinion, the Financial Conduct Authority is there to protect consumers, but “is more interested in protecting its own”.

It also goes on to highlight the inherent problems of staff untrained and lacking the knowledge to actually carry out their work. They are not being trained to spot “anything suspicious” in the companies they are supposed to be monitoring.

They lack any training, knowledge or experience in dealing with consumer complaints, and as Inside Timeshare has found in the past, every complaint seems to be dismissed in favour of the industry. Sounds a bit like the Resorts Development Organisation don’t you think!

Although the article is not about timeshare it is a very damning report of the FCA and their apparent inability to actually perform the job they are entrusted with. It certainly highlights the problems being faced by consumers who have had to endure lengthy high-pressure sales presentations, ending up signing agreements for finance on the false promises of sales staff, reliant on the loans to close the sale.

The link to the full article is below along with previous articles on this subject along with the link to Azure Malta Action And Support Group.

If you have purchased a timeshare with a loan arranged by the sales staff and would like more information on what your rights are, then please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you. If we are unable to answer your question we will find out for you.

Link to the Azure Action Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1152657598482168

PDF & Word versions of the template letter

Jeff Prestridge Article

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/comment/article-9070435/JEFF-PRESTRIDGE-FCA-let-investors.html?fbclid=IwAR3M0bPZrnghdan3Ae5zxaGP17CHfiwYQ5llR0V0ELMTzic-j9XZD_3-72E

Articles on the FCA validation

https://insidetimeshare.com/fca-validate-azure-bpf-loan-agreements/

https://insidetimeshare.com/fca-validate-bpf-azure-loans-update/

https://insidetimeshare.com/barclays-the-fca-and-azure-the-story-continues/

Shawbrook Bank

https://insidetimeshare.com/shawbrook-bank-announce-irregularities-timeshare-loans-similar-activities-usa/