By Tom Powell
AN Almeria couple are facing ‘financial ruin’ and the loss of their home because of an investment with an Estepona-based ‘boiler room’ outfit.
The British pensioners, both in their seventies, are expecting to lose their home over an investment they made with an illegal financial group, exposed by the Olive Press in 2012.
Offshore Investment Brokers (OIB) were revealed as being neither registered with Spanish regulator CNMV, nor the UK’s FSA, but that was too late for many unwitting customers.
William and Patricia Smith, who have lived in Andalucia for over a decade, are the latest OIB victims to come forward.
The couple contacted the Olive Press after finding themselves in debt to the tune of €206,000, which they owe to UK based Surrender Link Mortgage company.
The pair, who are hoping to return to the UK for health reasons, took out the ten year investment loan in 2007, secured against the value of their property.
But the fund they invested in simply has not performed and they recently received a letter from the mortgage provider informing them of the outstanding loan of €206,000. Only €81,456 is covered by the property’s value.
“The property was initially valued at €250,000 and we were always told that we would maintain 90% of its value,” said William. “We now owe €125,435 plus any additional costs, which could amount to several thousand extra.”
They signed for the investment scheme by OIB agent Philip Gravestock, who has since fled to the UK, after being put up overnight in a 5-star hotel in Estepona. The couple had hoped their investment was safe until they read our report about OIB director David Driver fleeing, owing tens of thousands in March 2012.
“It set alarm bells ringing with so many people affected, but when I sent the clipping to the mortgage company they said not to take much notice of it, so it was all put on hold until we received a letter before Christmas,” continued William. “OIB has been found as the protagonist in all this but surely the mortgage company is also responsible to its clients?”
OIB left Estepona under mounting pressure from the EU and investigations into the company, following complaints from many different people over the last decade. The Olive Press was unable to contact Driver or Gravestock in the UK. Surrender Link also failed to return emails.