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Resort Properties

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

PDF & Word versions of the template letter

Jeff Prestridge Article

Articles on the FCA validation

Shawbrook Bank

Barclays the FCA and Azure: The Story Continues

Since the beginning of 2018, Inside Timeshare has been following the case of the Financial Conduct Authority’s validation of Barclay Partner Finance loan agreements brokered by Azure Services Ltd. As we know, Azure Services Ltd was not authorised or regulated to broker any loan agreements, yet Barclay Partner Finance approached the FCA to validate these “illegal” agreements to make them enforceable in law in the case of any defaults in payments. This has affected over 1,400 clients whose timeshare purchases were made using these loan agreements.

To recap, these loan agreements were made between 1 April 2014 and 24 April 2016 , the purpose was to finance the purchase of “investments” weeks at the Radisson Blu Golden Sands Resort in Malta. These “investments” were sold with the promise of rental income and a substantial profit from the resale of those weeks after two years.

This is the same “investment” product sold by Azure’s sister company Silverpoint (formerly Resort Properties) based in Tenerife, all are part of the Robert Trotta empire which all comes under the umbrella of Limora Investments Ltd.

Those sales have been the subject of many court cases in Spain and over 50 Supreme Court rulings, in every case the courts have sided with the consumer.

It is also a fact that Silverpoint, Azure and a myriad of other companies within the group have all filed for liquidation. The reason is very simple, it avoids the liability of legal action for the illegal selling of timeshare.

Virtually all of these sales were financed by Barclay Partner Finance, with all loan agreements being brokered by the sales staff, which in itself raises the question of “unfair relationship” between broker and lender.

It is also a fact that many of the purchasers through these loans were already retired or about to retire. So again it raises the question how were these substantial sums approved as we know for a fact that not one client Inside Timeshare has spoken with has ever or was ever asked to submit a full “income v expenditure” report. This is something which for any sizable loan needs to be done to ensure affordability of the repayments. (see link below on Shawbrook Bank).

By the FCA validating these agreements any client who is unable to afford the loan repayments due to a change in circumstances and then defaults, can be taken through the County Courts and receive a County Court Judgement. This also has a severe effect on any credit ratings.

Due to the FCA issuing the validation order, this has now left many vulnerable and mostly elderly people in a very difficult position. They have a loan agreement which they were promised would be paid off in 2 years from the sales of the weeks which never materialised.

To fight this decision many “consumers” have formed the Azure Malta Action And Support Group, which is located on Facebook. (link below).

Many of these members are already fighting their cases with the help of various law firms, some represented themselves, but due to the validation, they have come together to launch an appeal.

They have already sent a letter, a copy of which is on the PDF link below, to the following:

The Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland

The Right Honourable Robert Buckland, Lord Chancellor

Boris Johnson (PM)

Judge Herrington

Judge Timothy Herrington

The letter goes into great detail on how this product and the loan agreements were sold, the high pressure and lengthy sales presentations. They used techniques such as highlighting the investment into the hotel by two Manchester United players, this along with the fact that BPF was known and tended to be a trusted name, ensured that these non-existent “investments” looked very sound indeed. We do know from the Silverpoint scam, there was never any intention to begin any resales of these “investment” weeks.

This is a story which we are sure is not going away for some time, Inside Timeshare will be following developments and will publish any news on these pages.

If you have purchased through Azure between April 2012 and April 2014 with a BPF loan brokered by Azure, then you should contact Azure Malta Action And Support Group on the link above.

Letter to the Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland

Links to the full story in order of publication.

General article on loan agreements

Article on Shawbrook Bank admitting negligence on timeshare loan agreements

If you purchased a timeshare using a loan agreement brokered by any timeshare salespeople and would like to know where you stand legally and what options are open to you, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

Is It The End of Timeshare Sales in Europe and What About the RDO?

Welcome to the end of another week with Inside Timeshare, it has certainly been a busy one with so much news coming in from the courts and some more scam warnings were also issued. We began on Monday with news of the latest payouts to clients from cases against Anfi, this also included a warning on misinformation being put out on various forums regarding clients not getting paid out. On Tuesday we brought you more news from the courts including those from another timeshare law firm and also from an independent lawyer. We then published the story of the “fake” law firm supposedly operating out of Madrid and claiming to be working for the Courts. There is no company name but there are plenty of fake court documents. There was also more news on the “Battle for Anfi Payments”, this article followed one case which is now over with the client finally receiving their money. This story explains why there is such a “battle” to secure clients funds from Anfi, it is a real eye-opener.

Today however we have a look at the future for the timeshare industry and what it may hold for timeshare resorts/companies and the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation) the supposed “Trade Body” of the timeshare industry.

Over the past few years, we have seen many “timeshare sales” companies closing their “sales decks” with many sales staff losing their jobs.

Around three years ago, Diamond Resorts closed all their sales decks around Europe keeping on a few of the “in-house” sales reps. This was followed by Silverpoint, then recently the announcement that Club la Costa has now closed down all of their timeshare sales. It is also a fact that even Anfi has cut down on their cold line and in-house reps. The reason, well, there are several which we can think of, obviously, the first is the lack of sales on the “cold line”.

The “cold line” is your first introduction to timeshare, you will probably have been picked up on the street by an “OPC” with those wonderful “scratch cards” where you are the “only” winner of the “star prize”. (Sorry, but everyone’s a winner).

You spend several hours (after being told it is only 90 minutes), being given “the hard sell” along with “selling the dream”. Everything sounds great and you are then convinced to sign up. You are now a “proud” timeshare owner, but you also now are fodder for the in-house reps to attempt to upgrade you every time you holiday.

As people have become aware of the tactics used to get you to these presentations, it has become increasingly difficult for the OPC’s on the street to get people  “on the tour”. Those that do are not as easily convinced to purchase as they were years ago when timeshare first appeared and during its heyday in the late 80s and early 90s.

Another reason is that so many of the current owners/members are now elderly and are giving up their timeshares either through relinquishment or by taking the case to court having the contract declared null and void plus the return of their purchase price. Now there is a severe lack of new members, the management companies are now liable for the maintenance on the unsold and returned weeks.

So with the lack of sales, the closure of the sales decks, the diminishing membership base what is the future for the timeshare industry and the RDO?

Timeshare ownership has been on the decline for years, leaving the management companies with more weeks on their inventory than members in many cases, so they need to make up the shortfall. This has been done by advertising those weeks on various booking websites, this has tended to infuriate members who due to owning floating weeks or points (which incidentally are illegal in Spain) find that there is a lack of availability. Many are able to book cheaper than the annual maintenance fees!

As for the RDO, over the years they have always backed up their members, they have ignored the fact that it is their own members who have been selling contracts which are illegal in Spain. It is their own members who are being taken to court for these illegal contracts, yet they make no mention of it apart from the odd statement that they believe the Courts and the Supreme Court have interpreted the law incorrectly. We wonder why?

A great case in point is that of Silverpoint, for years this company along with their predecessor Resort Properties sold many illegal contracts, the most prolific were the “investment packs” of weeks. These were supposedly weeks which would gain a rental income and after 2 years be resold at a profit. This was later replaced with the “company participation scheme”, the same thing under another name.

These “products” have been clearly deemed as illegal and there are hundreds of cases waiting to be heard in court, which is a large contributing factor to the closure of sales and the liquidation of Silverpoint. Yet, Silverpoint were one of the largest contributors to RDO funds, the CEO of Silverpoint, Mark Cushway was also a director of the RDO!

So it is not rocket science why the RDO does not mention or sanction these companies for their “illegal” practices, it is their payments that keep this “organisation” afloat.

Now when Silverpoint withdrew their membership and Cushway resigned as a director, the RDO still said absolutely nothing, even though they were no longer members and have been completely discredited in the courts.

This also brings us to Kwikchex, this company replaced the discredited Alberto Garcia and mindtimeshare website, their brief is to bring to the attention of timeshare members the “bogus” practices of the many companies on the periphery of timeshare. But, only if they are not members of the RDO, yet did they say anything about the practices of Silverpoint, the answer is a resounding NO!

So what of the RDO if other timeshare companies go the same way, how will the RDO be able to function without their annual subscriptions?

That is the million-dollar question as it would not take much to diminish that income, after all, it appears that the RDO only represents around 10% of the timeshare industry in Europe and these are the major companies such as Diamond, Club la Costa and Anfi.

We know that Anfi is also in dire straits legally and financially, the majority shareholders and controllers of Anfi is the Cazorla Group, they are on the verge of being placed into liquidation. The number of claims and the amounts being seized by the courts is absolutely staggering, there is no way the sales company can survive. When they do finally go, will Anfi be withdrawing from the RDO?

This year has been very hard for the holiday industry with all the restrictions being imposed around the world, hotels have had to close resulting in a severe loss of income, timeshare, however, has fared a little better.

The reason being is that they are still demanding the payment of the annual maintenance fees even though the members cannot use it, resulting in many complaints about the fees. Will they get a refund, will they get a reduction in next year’s fees?

Unfortunately from the enquiries received by Inside Timeshare, this does not seem the case. In fact, Anfi has been downright despicable in this matter.

Members are basically being “blackmailed” into signing the new Anfi contracts or they will not receive a voucher to save this year’s week. The reason for the “new” contract is very simple indeed, ever since the introduction of the timeshare laws on 5 January 1999, Anfi has continued to sell their product in breach of these laws. Again nothing from the RDO except their backing of the Anfi claim the “law is wrong”.

The issue of the “new” contract is specifically designed to bring them within the law, with the duration set at the maximum of 50 years, along with the allocation of a week number and apartment number which then gives the impression that it is a fixed week. In fact, the contract still calls it a floating week. We also suspect that the same weeks and apartments have been allocated to several members at the same time!

So to answer our question of what does the future hold, well it does look very bleak indeed, timeshare seems to have had its day, people have found better and cheaper ways to holiday without the huge initial income of the timeshare purchase and the obligatory annual fees. The standard of hotels on package holidays has also improved considerably as many of the timeshare resorts have become dated. Along with the increasing number of elderly members wanting out and no new young blood purchasing, the timeshare industry will slowly diminish with many timeshare resorts reverting to standard hotels. Could this be the future for Anfi if they do liquidate, after all the minority shareholders with no direct control at present, are a major hotelier?

As for the RDO, with the demise of the industry who are they going to represent, after all, we have said that they only seem to represent 10%, so to lose another few of their main contributors would certainly reduce their influence.

Kwikchex, well your guess is as good as mine, we are sure the CEO Chris Emmins who has a rather colourful track record (see link below), will find another company to “contract” their services!

Chris Emmins CEO Kwikchex

In the end, the timeshare industry has only itself to blame for its demise, for years they have reaped millions of euros in sales yet have given virtually nothing in return. They have flouted the laws in virtually every place they operate and all with the full sanction of the RDO who will not investigate or adjudicate on any complaint against their members.

The industry does need to change and wake up to the realities that they are no longer the “must-have product” of the past, they need to reevaluate what they do and how they do it, they need to become more consumer/member aware. There will still be a timeshare industry, but this will be limited and more than likely appeal to the high-end market rather than the ordinary Joe in the street who was “kidnapped” and cajoled into purchasing.

Timeshare as we know it is a thing of the past, this year I believe has really put a spanner in the works, owners/members are waking up to the fact that they mean nothing to the companies apart from a readily available source of income. What we call “cash cows on a money-making conveyor belt”.

Are you experiencing problems with your timeshare, are you getting what you paid for and were promised, is your contract illegal, do you want out for whatever reason?

If you are answering yes to these questions and would like further information on your legal rights and your options, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

Have a great weekend.

Article on Kwikchex

General search on RDO articles