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Resorts Development Organisation

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/

Start the Week: Another Defeat for Anfi & A Question for the RDO

Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, although it will be a short week and looking forward to a welcome break over the Christmas and New Year Period. We begin this week with news which came in late on Friday with another defeat for Anfi at the High Court. We also ask the question of why is the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation) not even acknowledging that their own members are losing in the courts for not abiding by the law let alone the organisation’s code of conduct and ethics?

High Court of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

As we have been seeing time and time again, Anfi is doing their utmost to delay proceedings with their constant appeals to the High Court, causing not just stress for the clients but also creating a huge backlog of cases to be heard by this particular court.

The Court of First Instance of San Bartelomé de Tirajana Number 3, declared the Anfi contract null and void in accordance with all cases they have tried, this is also in accordance with the rulings, of which there are now 131, by the Supreme Court in Madrid. This is Spain’s Highest Court and once they have ruled there is no going back as this is the last port of call for any appeal.


Court of First Instance of San Bartelomé de Tirajana

The original sentence issued by the Court of First Instance as well as declaring the contract null and void also ordered Anfi to repay 61,166€ plus Legal Interest. The award was also calculated to include the repayment of double the amounts the client paid within the statutory cooling-off period.

As expected, Anfi once again appealed the ruling to the High Court of Las Palmas. The Judges once again in accordance with past practice and the Supreme Court rulings rejected and dismissed the appeal. They confirmed the original sentence and returned it to the original court for execution of sentence.

No doubt the Lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance had already placed a “provisional execution of sentence order”, even before the announcement of the appeal. We have come to expect this in every single case.

In this case, the Norwegian client’s case was prepared and presented by Eva Gutierrez with Claims Consultant Michael Gadman assisting the client throughout the procedure.

We now have to ask the question, “Why does the RDO not sanction Anfi and other timeshare operators who are their members, such as Diamond Resorts and Club la Costa?”

Well, the simple answer is the RDO policy of not getting involved in any dispute between their members and timeshare owners. Yet they will pull out all the stops if a non-RDO member does anything remotely wrong.

Is this practice fair for consumers, Inside Timeshare and others think not!

In fact, all the cases we are seeing and also highlighting on these pages are members of the RDO, they also have one thing in common, they are all in breach of one of the main points of the RDO “Code of Conduct and Ethics”.

Part I, Chapter 3, Paragraph 3.5 actually states:

“To comply with all laws, which apply to Member’s, business in the jurisdiction in which the Member operates.”

Now, considering that the Laws of Spain have been ignored by virtually all timeshare resorts and companies since the Law 42/98 came into force on 5 January 1999, surely this is a blatant breach of their rules?

This is not the only breach of the RDO “Code”, Part II of the code, which covers “Principles”, is also being blatantly breached. This covers the way in which timeshare should be sold and relates to the information consumers must receive. It also covers the point that consumers should be given the facts in order that they are able to make “informed purchase decisions when contracting with an RDO Member”.

In Part II of the Code, it is also clearly stated:

2. Sales and Marketing Principles 

2.1 RDO Members will in no case mislead a consumer into believing that a product or service has other features and/or benefits than those laid down in the contract.

2.2 RDO Members will in particular ensure:

2.2.1 Appropriate marketing techniques that make it clear what the object of the approach to the consumer is;

2.2.2 Appropriate selling methods that treat the consumer with respect and allow the consumer choice between purchasing and reflection; and

2.2.3. The provision of any necessary assistance to consumers to enable them to make an informed decision.

As we have seen over the years, these principles have been ignored by all the major timeshare resorts and operators. The very worst was by one of the RDO’s former largest contributors, Silverpoint, whose CEO Mark Cushway was also a Director of the RDO!

Silverpoint withdrew from the RDO with Cushway resigning as a Director a few years ago, since then have filed for liquidation following major defeats in the courts regarding the sale of their product “Investment Packs”.

Mark Cushway former CEO of Silverpoint and Director of the RDO

These were groups of weeks and apartments sold with the promise of a rental income and a profit when the weeks were to be put up for resale after 2 years. As we know none of these ever materialised with Silverpoint losing in all cases along with around 50 rulings against them in the Supreme Court.

This particular scheme has been dubbed as one of the biggest frauds in timeshare history, yet what did the RDO say or do about it?

Well, you guessed it, absolutely nothing, even when these consumers made complaints to the RDO their response was what we have come to expect, the RDO does not mediate in any dispute between a member and a consumer. The consumer must take up any complaint directly with the timeshare operator. Hence the proliferation in litigation which the timeshare industry is losing.

Below is a PDF copy of the RDO Code of Conduct, once you begin to read it you will see many other infractions of this code by RDO members. Just remember what the sales reps told you when you first attended a presentation or even the constant attempts to “upgrade” you by the in-house reps. This will certainly open your eyes to what this industry and the so-called “Trade Body” are actually all about, we call it “protecting the old boy’s network”.

So, who can you go to when you have a dispute, the Kwikchex “helpline”, which is just another company funded by the RDO designed to protect their own members. The choice is very limited, timeshare owners are basically left on their own and at the mercy of some very dubious “exit & claims” companies. For those whose purchases were made in Spain, at least they are able to use the laws in place and use the legal system to gain redress, as we have constantly shown on our pages.

To end today’s article, if you purchased in Spain after 5 January 1999, with a contract with either no end date (perpetuity) or over the permitted 50 years duration, you have floating weeks or points systems, which also include fractional, paid any amount within the statutory cooling-off period. Then you may have a case under the Spanish legal system against your timeshare company for breaches of Timeshare Laws 42/98 & 4/12.

If you would like more information on this subject please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

Supreme Court Dismiss Anfi Appeal

Today we bring the news of yet another Anfi appeal being rejected and dismissed, this time not by the High Court of Las Palmas (Appeals), but by the highest court in Spain, Tribunal Supremo or the Supreme Court based in Madrid. As we already know it was this court which returned a landmark verdict in the 2015 case of Mrs Tove Grimsbo and her case against Anfi. That ruling lay the groundwork for all subsequent rulings of which Canarian Legal Alliance already has 130, it was legal history and changed the way the timeshare laws were interpreted once and for all.

Back in 2015, when the Supreme Court heard the very first timeshare case, all eyes in the legal profession and the timeshare industry were on the court and this landmark case. It all began in the Courts of First Instance and then passed to the High Courts with many appeals. It was the first time that the timeshare laws brought into force in January 1999 had really been tested.

Eventually, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Mrs Grimsbo and the rest, as they say, is history. (See link below for a rundown on this story).

Since that momentous day in 2015, there have been many more rulings and clarification of the law, this has not been welcomed by the timeshare industry with even the trade body the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation) claiming the courts have interpreted the law wrongly.

All we can say to that is after 130 rulings it is the industry and the RDO who are wrong.

Anfi Resort

As you, our readers are very much aware, Anfi has been conducting what can only be described as “delaying tactics” all designed at making the litigation process as long and difficult for the clients as possible. This has resulted in appeal after appeal, all of which are being dismissed and returned to the original courts for the execution of sentence.

This is the latest appeal to have gone against Anfi, this time it was the Highest Court in Spain who rejected the appeal.

Anfi obviously felt justified in challenging rulings at the Supreme Court again, the very court which since 2015 has set very clear, decisive and rulings which are totally unambiguous on every occasion. The reason why Anfi launched this appeal, your guess is as good as mine, but, we do suspect that it is totally in line with their attempts to buy time and delay the inevitable.

The Supreme Court not only rejected the appeal made by Anfi, but they also refused to study the appeal. The panel of Judges could see no benefit in doing so, as far as they are concerned there is no conflict between the previous rulings of the court along with its application by both the Courts of First Instance and the High Courts

In this case, the Swedish clients represented by Lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance, have now had their case returned to the original court for execution of sentence, with the sentence confirmed by the Supreme Court.

The client’s contract has been declared null and void, with the court awarding 120,000€ plus legal interest. This also included double the amount for payments taken illegally within the statutory cooling-off period.

This is now the end of the case apart from the execution order and the eventual payout to the client, there are no further grounds open to Anfi for any appeal.

The case was prepared and presented by the CLA Lawyer Oscar Salvador Santana Gonzalez with Claims Consultant Michael Gadman assisting the client during the process.

It is now very clear to Inside Timeshare and to our regular readers that Spain’s courts are most definitely on the side of the consumer when it comes to timeshare purchases, as we have stated before the industry only has itself to blame for their woes at this time. Anfi is trying to correct this situation with their contracts, but, as we have come to expect they are doing this in a very underhand way.

As we have reported for the past few years, Anfi is trying to entice members to sign the new “legal” contracts, the problem is since the start of the pandemic situation, Anfi has used this to “blackmail” members into signing.

For those who have lost their weeks this year due to Anfi being closed, the restrictions on travel and the cancellation of many flights, Anfi made the following offer to members:

They can claim a voucher to save this year’s week and use it next year (that’s if everything returns to normal), sounds great until you discover the terms and conditions of receiving this voucher.

In order to save your week or weeks, the only way to get the voucher is to sign the new contract which legalises it to conform with the law. This in itself is not a bad thing until you realise why they are doing it, the moment you sign the new contract you lose all your rights to make a claim through the courts for the mis-selling of the product and the illegal contract.

If that is not “blackmail”, well I don’t know what is.

Do you have an Anfi contract and are looking to terminate and get your money back?

If so and you would like to find out if it is an illegal contract and what your options are, then please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.