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Cazorla Group

Anfi: The Story Behind the News Part Four

This week Inside Timeshare has been following the story of Anfi. It began with the development of the resort, the brief partnership with Tui and then the virtual takeover of the Cazorla Group. We say takeover as when they purchased their 50% share from Tui, they also took hold of the “Golden Share”, which gave them control over the board of directors. Today we revisit a story that came to light in 2016, this is the Tauro Beach Project, one that has been frought with problems and some very serious irregularities.

It all began when the Guardia Civil Nature Protection Service, SEPRONA, challenged the authorisations that were granted to Anfi to occupy over 3Km of the coast. The Guardia Civil had been running an investigation into the Anfi Group, the promoters of the project since work began to transform the beach in February of 2016.

In July 2016, La Provincia published an article about the investigation and how it had now expanded. They reported that the Department of Sustainability of the Coasts and the Sea, which comes under the Ministry of Environment, had dismissed the head of the Canary Islands Coastal Authority, José María Hernández Leon. It appears that his dismissal is based on serious irregularities found in the permissions granted to the Anfi Group for the project. This project is for the creation of a new beach, boardwalk and other facilities at the mouth of the Barranco de Tauro.

As these investigations moved along, it uncovered some very disturbing information, it was announced that the Mayor of Mogan, Onalia Bueno, is also under investigation. This was for granting a licence that had apparently expired. But this was only the tip of what was being uncovered. It was looking like unlawful acts had been committed in the execution of the regeneration works at Tauro Beach.

The plans were to convert the rock and pebble beach into a manmade sandy beach, build a marina and inland, the construction of several hotels, a shopping center and other amenities. With Anfi holding the licence to “exploit” the area for 50 years. This concession has now been legally removed.

It soon came to light that the licences and permissions to start the work and transform the beach were not issued until around 6 months after the fact. Just this alone made the work illegal.

Then there was the controversy about the sand that was to be used for the beach, it was apparently imported from Western Sahara, it is also believed that no environmental precautions were carried out on the imported sand, this is to protect the new area from invasive species.

It also came to light that this sand was imported illegally, there are international and EU rules which govern the use of any resources from this region. The UN and the EU have sanctions on this matter and the sand most definitely comes into the category. One of the reasons is that since the Spanish withdrawal from Western Sahara, Morocco has laid claim to the region and has occupied it against international condemnation.

This story was also published in the UK press, this link will take you to the Inside Timeshare article and a link to The Guardian where it was published.

The first conviction of this investigation was that of the Head of the Coastal Authority, José María Hernández Leon, it is believed that more charges and convictions may follow.

Ex-Head of the Coastal Authority, José María Hernández Leon
Now serving 3 years

During this whole episode, Inside Timeshare also published what was happening to the people who live at Tauro Beach and the small bar and restaurant situated there. They watched with horror as their beach and area were basically destroyed.

With the transformation of the beach into a flat sandy area, the natural protection of the land behind the beach and subsequently the houses were removed. At the first of the high tides and only a mild swell from a small storm, the sea breached the beach washing much of it away. It did not end there, the local population were flooded out of their homes, this had never happened before, even during some of the most violent storms.

This is just one of the incidents that took place, much of the story can be found on our pages, there are a lot of them, the following link shows just a few, there are also links within the articles to various publications and previous stories on Inside Timeshare.

The investigations are still ongoing, Anfi and the Cazorla Group are also involved and may face possible criminal charges and prosecution, along with members of Mogan Council and especially the Mayor. The discrepancies in the documentation are being viewed very severely as fraudulent, the whole affair is going much deeper and is more complicated than first envisaged.

The debacle that is the Tauro Beach Project, has not done the reputations of many individuals much good, it has also severely tarnished the reputation of Anfi. The cutting of corners, the “favours” made to get things moving and done, it is all smelling of bribery and corruption and it will all come out in the end. When it does, rest assured it will appear on these pages.

Tomorrow we end our series on Anfi: The Story Behind the News, with Part Four. This covers the latest “Boardroom” battle that has now spilled over to the courts and it is a story that shows the great animosity between the partners.








Anfi: The Story Behind the News Part Two

Yesterday we had a brief look at the beginnings of Anfi, their partnership with TUI, one that was fraught with problems that gave rise to the introduction of the new partners at Anfi, The Cazorla Group. They are still in “control” today, some say many of Anfi’s woes stem from their decisions, which is for you the reader to decide. This partnership has not gone by without some drama or other, usually resulting in some bad press being published and the Anfi “propaganda” machine has to go into action. But more on this later.

When TUI first entered the partnership with Lyng, they held 51% of the shares, what we know as the “Golden Share”, this gives them control over the Board of Directors. TUI immediately took advantage of this and placed its own people into the top management of Anfi.

The culture shock was enormous, Tui attempted to move Anfi directly into their own system purely as subsidiaries. There were also clashes at the boardroom level, between the two different systems and views for Anfi and its future development.

It is also believed that the Board of Directors were informed around 2001 that the contract they were selling for their timeshare system was in fact in breach of the new laws. By all accounts, it was recommended that the contracts be changed to fully comply with the law. This was rejected and as we know it set the seeds for today’s problems for Anfi.

As we mentioned yesterday, Tui also had other reasons for pulling out of Anfi, enter the Cazorla Brothers Santiago Sanatana and Manuel, with the Cazorla Group. They are a product of Spain’s transformation which began in the 1960s.

They began with nothing but eventually built a large group of companies and were very successful in the construction industry. They even owned a couple of hotels.

When Tui decided to sell their 51%, there were several potential buyers, this also included the Anfi management and Bjorn Lyng. It appears that while these negotiations were underway, Grupo Santana Cazorla had gone straight to Tui and had already bought the entire 51%.

The Cazorlas were now in control of the board at Anfi.

View over the Championship Golf Course at Anfi Tauro

The timing and the entry of the Cazorla’s were not all bad, it was around this time the project to build the Championship Golf Course and Resort at Tauro was well in hand. It was not long before the machinery of the Cazorla Group was operating and constructing this magnificent course. It appeared a match made in heaven.

But the proverbial spanner in the works would surface, not immediately but simmering away beneath the public face were to be some revelations that would turn the relationship very sour and public indeed.

The courts were certainly going to be busy in the near future, and that time had come. It appears to have originally started around 2010 when the Norwegian family demanded 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 family noticed the diversion of these funds while a lawsuit was pending between Santana Cazorla and Lopesan at The Court of First Instance No1 of Las Palmas.

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.

(Source: La Provincia 17/07/2013)

As we know, eventually the Lyng family sold their share to IFA/Lopesan, so now the protagonists were partners, and the court battle was not over. Enter round two.

This story was published on these pages in July 2018 and can be followed at the following link.

The story of Anfi is a long complicated and rather intriguing one, tomorrow we look at the legal battles over the sale of their timeshare system. The historical first victory at the Supreme Court for one Anfi client, which then set the scene for all other cases to follow.

Join us again tomorrow for more on Anfi: The Story Behind the News.








Anfi: The Story Behind the News Part One

Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, you are all familiar with the news published on these pages involving the numerous court cases involving the sale by Anfi of illegal contracts. These begin at the Courts of First Instance and as we have seen it doesn’t end there, with Anfi taking every case through to appeal at the High Court and attempts to file yet more appeals with the Supreme Court. Each and every case fails, with the original judgement being confirmed and the appeals being dismissed. But Anfi has been in the news for other reasons as well, the most notable recently has been the Tauro Beach Project, a case which has already seen one conviction.

We have also seen many boardroom battles which have spilt over into the courts, arguments between the partners, first the Cazorla Group and the Lyngs, now it is the Cazorla’s and the Lopesans. All is not well at Anfi as we will see later this week with yet another courtroom battle raging.

To start the story we have a look at the early history of Anfi, the project to build Bjorn Lyngs, dream of a luxury hotel complex, how it became “timeshare” and then the subsequent problems which are now plaguing Anfi.

The late Bjorn Lyng was a well known and seemingly respected businessman and entrepreneur, he was Norwegian by birth and began his working life apparently as a blacksmith. Over the years he began to make a name for himself in the business world making himself and others huge amounts of money. He was certainly successful.

To cut a long life story short, he eventually made enough and decided to “retire” to Gran Canaria, a place he already had ties with. He owned a place by the Golf Course in Meloneras, and he also had property in Tenerife, but Gran Canaria would become central to his “retirement” dream.

With his business interests in the hands of others, mainly his own sons, he began his “retirement” and his plans for his dream. This was the development of a hotel/resort in the “International Super Class” category. He believed that there would always be a demand for luxury upmarket hotels and resorts among the world’s rich and elite.

Punta de la Vega before the mountain was moved.

His target for development was Barranco de la Vega and Punto de la Vega, the latter being a mountain that nested right up to the coast. A whole mountain was going to have to be removed to build his dream.

By all accounts, Lyng undertook many surveys with the help of the University of Trondheim, all to ensure that his dream for the resort could be carried out. Well, he was going to move a mountain. This is a little different to what we have found with the latest Anfi project.

The Norwegian-Spanish construction company got underway, with the Norwegians training the local Spanish to operate the machinery and eventually take over the construction. The project was providing much-needed employment and training for the local populace.

All appeared well, unfortunately at the start of the 1990s, international tourism took a dramatic nosedive, tour operators and charter companies began to tighten their belts and many folded. Lyng was now losing money hand over fist and he had to take a very close look at his next move and options.

This is when he changed course in his “dream” and began to look at the timeshare option. He knew nothing of timeshare so off he went to Hawaii, a timeshare market that appeared to be flourishing and was operating at a serious level. Here he studied the timeshare model and this is what he brought back for the “new Anfi dream”.

By 1994 the sales of timeshare apartments were going through the roof, building work was going at a great pace, so much so that it was not keeping up with sales. By the time the finishing touches were being made, the “owners” were queuing up at the door.

At this time the model being used was what timeshare originally intended, the fixed week with an apartment number attached, the “owner” was guaranteed the week and apartment they purchased every year. How things would change when greed really set in.

The beginnings of construction and the end result.

Anfi itself certainly wowed the visitors, there are stories of holidaymakers telling each other to go and have a look round. The old ticket touts (OPCs) on the streets of Puerto Rico and Playa del Inglese made a killing supplying a steady stream of potential buyers.

The sales teams were making a fortune in commission, so much so that word travelled fast around the world about the opportunities and money being made selling the “Jewel” that was Anfi.

By far the largest purchasers, in the beginning, were the Norwegians themselves, the fact that one of their own and someone with a good reputation was behind it, gave a special kind of validity to the product. Also to them, the price was not really a concern.

There was also a brief partnership with the German travel giant TUI, but this came to an end by 2004. There were various reasons, one being that TUI had some financial problems, having overextended in the 1990s. They had to sell off many acquisitions to raise money, one was their share at Anfi.

This aside, times were good, but it was not going to last. Tomorrow we take a look at how things began to change and the arrival of the Cazorla Group. The development at Tauro, with the splendid villas and championship golf course. We also look at how the product changed and did not meet the required laws of 1998, regulating timeshare sales and coming into force in January 1999.

All this and what is to come will give you the reader a good insight into how the current situation has developed, it will make you think about how Anfi has changed from its initial concept and the trouble they have today. From the illegal contracts which they continued to sell to some very serious and dubious business dealings and the subsequent investigations the story continues, it is one that has had a very negative effect on the timeshare model and this “flagship” resort.

Join us again tomorrow for the next instalment of Anfi: The Story Behind the News.