EXCLUSIVE By James Bryce
AN Estepona-based financial services company has been accused of ‘ripping off’ expats to the tune of millions.
Dozens insist they have been mis-sold by Offshore Investment Brokers (OIB), which is neither registered with Spanish regulator the CNMV, nor the UK’s FSA.
According to the Costa del Sol Action Group – which has used OIB as an example while it campaigns for tighter regulation in Spain – it has received numerous complaints over the last decade.
One victim, Paul O’Connell, fears he may now lose his home after being advised to take out a 260,000 euro 10-year loan secured against the value of his property.
The 55-year-old, from Mijas, is currently facing a 50 per cent shortfall after being persuaded to put his money into an investment fund.
“I’ve been told that it will improve over the next few years but as it stands I could lose my flat,” he told the Olive Press.
The Estepona-based outfit, headed by ‘financial advisor’ David Driver, is now facing mounting pressure after the EU promised to investigate IFAs based in Spain.
“OIB is typical of what goes on down here,” said David Klein, co-founder of the Costa del Sol Action Group.
“They act as introducers but in reality they are engaging in high-pressure selling of financial products and are benefitting from hidden commissions,” he added.
Another victim, Christen Holboll, has now written to Driver to express his anger at being ‘ripped off’ after approaching him for advice on reducing inheritance tax on his 1.2 million euro home.
In the letter seen by the Olive Press, Hoboll states: “David you are not a financial advisor, you are a financial swindler.”
Ironically, Driver once backed tighter regulation of IFAs in Spain.
Speaking in 2003, he said: “I welcome the ability to be regulated…I think that Europe-wide regulation needs to be in place as there is no appropriate authority to clamp down on mis-selling in Spain.”
The Olive Press was this week unable to get hold of him for comment.