Expat victims of equity release scams protest in Malaga

LAST UPDATED: 15 Apr, 2012 @ 15:52
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Expat victims of equity release scams protest in Malaga

By Wendy Williams

OVER 30 foreign victims of equity release scams gathered outside of Hacienda in Malaga yesterday to protest over an alleged fraud that could see many of them losing their homes.

The mainly British group, led by Euan Armstrong and Ian Sherdley who formed the Equity Release Victims Association, filed denuncias with the Agencia Tributaria against a number of mostly Scandinavian foreign banks.

They now hope Hacienda will intervene after they highlighted Spain is losing a large amount in taxes due to fraudulent schemes where all the money is invested and lost in Luxembourg.

“We already presented all this evidence to the Supreme Court of Spain in Madrid and they chose to ignore it so this way we are bringing their attention to the loss of tax to the Spanish coffers,” said Armstrong, 74.

“It went very well. A good number turned out and each person filed a denuncia with Hacienda.

“We are exposing the situation to the tax office that these banks are taking money from Spain and lodging it in Luxembourg. Spain stands to lose a lot of money.

“I would like to think that Hacienda will now act.”

The group, represented by Antonio Flores from the Marbella based firm Lawbird, demonstrated for over an hour carrying placards which attacked some of the banks they claim have tricked them.

According to the group foreign banks convinced predominately retired foreigners to take out ‘predatory mortgages’ on their homes at a value way above the level of the official appraisal.

Victims were lured in by the false hope they could reduce inheritance tax for their loved ones – who would eventually be liable to pay Spain’s top rate of 34 per cent – and enjoy a salary for life by investing in financial havens such as Luxembourg, supposedly without risk.

But the scam – which could have as many as 600 victims and is estimated at a staggering 250 million euros – has left many of them penniless.

12 COMMENTS

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  1. It is a truth that should be universally acknowledged, if it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t (true, that is). We only have their word for it that the Supreme Court in Madrid ‘ignored’ it. Possibly they are just being incredibly slow or they feel there is no case to answer.

  2. Have you not noticed the google ads (blevins, wincham, etc) on this and other websites advising people to quit paying their taxes? Thousands of people are being ‘advised’ on a daily basis to break the laws, and no one seems too worried about it Anyone can become a tax evader, you only have to follow the advice given by these unregulated advisors.

  3. Michael, Blevins are regulated. From their website:

    “Blevins Franks Financial Management Limited is authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Services Authority only for the conduct of investment and pension business. Blevins Franks Trustees Limited is authorised and regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority for the administration of trusts and companies.
    Blevins Franks Tax Limited only gives taxation advice; all of the advisers are fully qualified tax advisers.”

  4. It almost doesn’t matter if they are regulated/authorised or not. The point is there are so many quasi-legal ways of avoiding tax, and so many companies out there to exploit our innate greed, it is laughable. And I regularly see adverts aimed at people who want to make money on the currency markets – after everything that has happened in the economy it is madness that people can still speculate in this way.

  5. In answer to the comment regarding tax evasion – this is an illegal practice and Wincham would never advise or advocate the use of any methods to evade any tax and in effect defraud the government of the country in question. Equally we would never advise a client to stop paying taxes due.
    Wincham offers advice and solutions for tax avoidance schemes – we have a team of lawyers, consultants, accountants and company formation specialist ready to act on behalf of our clients.
    We form a UK Limited Liability company, in which the real estate’s ownership passes the owners name into the hands of the company.
    We make all the transfer arrangements and organise the payment of Spanish legal and Notary costs.
    We register the company in the UK and deal with the corporate legal requirements in the UK and Spain.
    Each member of the family could become a director of the company. In this way if the current owner dies or is ill, the company can be easily reorganised.

    It would only be necessary to transfer the company shares, which fall outside the Spanish inheritance tax net.
    This structure is entirely legal and not a loophole but takes advantage of EU tax treaties that exist between the UK and Spain which allow UK companies to own properties in Spain completely legally.

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