UK bank in Spanish property kickback scandal

LAST UPDATED: 10 Jun, 2010 @ 23:40
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UK bank in Spanish property kickback scandal

TWO executives at British bank RBS have been suspended over allegations that they took kickbacks on mortgages awarded for Spanish homes.

The pair, Alan Dawson and Simon Clark, allegedly creamed off tens of thousands of euros from deals done through “trusted” agents.

The bankers, who were responsible for Spanish mortgage lending, would set up customers with these friendly agents and then arrange loans for those interested in buying.

In return they would demand a quarter share of the commissions paid for each home purchase.

Incredibly many of the alleged practices are suspected to have taken place since the taxpayer-funded bail-out of the bank last year.

And it came while many small businesses and consumers were being denied credit.

In total, the foreign mortgage department under investigation handled hundreds of millions of euros of lending for Britons wishing to buy second homes in Europe, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The bankers – who allegedly own property in Gibraltar and Spain – realised that their role in matching agent and client was potentially lucrative, as a client with a mortgage already in place from a respected high street bank was a very valuable lead.

In the most popular destinations, such as Marbella or Estepona, there was strong competition among agents, keen to pick up commissions of up to five per cent for sales.

If a property sold for one million euros, the agent could earn up to 50,000 euros. A quarter share would be 12,500 euros.

Mr Dawson, a business development manager, was responsible for arranging mortgages for people from the North West wanting mortgages to buy properties in Spain.

He and his colleague Simon Clark, who covers the Midlands, allegedly asked agents whether they would be prepared to pay “commission” for introductions.

The allegations are the latest to cast a shadow over the Spanish property market, which is rapidly becoming one of the major victims of the global credit crisis.

Dawson allegedly suggested that the money might be paid to his wife, Paula.

He allegedly claimed she had her own “property business” and suggested that agents invoice her – by emailing an NTL World account in her name. However, there is no available evidence that Mrs Dawson has a property business.

Mr Clark allegedly made a similar suggestion – that commission could be paid to a friend’s overseas property company.

The alleged deal was simple – the bankers wanted 25 per cent of the estate agent’s commission.

They would also introduce the agents to financial advisers and British-based agents. They then allegedly suggested a cut of the money earned from customers of these firms.

However, crucially, the customers are suspected to have been oblivious to the arrangements allegedly being negotiated behind the scenes.

The allegations are the latest to cast a shadow over the Spanish property market, which is rapidly becoming one of the major victims of the global credit crisis.

“The police should be looking at this,” a source close to the RBS inquiry told the Daily Telegraph. “These guys appeared to have been very cavalier and it looks like many people may at least have been aware of the arrangements.”

Neither Dawson or Clark commented on the allegations.

The allegations are embarrassing for RBS, which was saved from collapse last October by an emergency injection of £20 billion from the Treasury. The taxpayer now owns 70 per cent of RBS.

The near collapse of RBS prompted the resignation of Sir Fred Goodwin, the former chief executive, and many other senior executives.

The bank’s meltdown was blamed partly on the culture that was allowed to develop with bankers taking disproportionate risks.
 

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