A BANK has been ordered to refund €227,000 to a British couple who unwittingly bought an illegal apartment.
A Malaga court judge said Banco Popular was responsible for making the payment to the unnamed pair, who found out too late that their dream property in Los Lagos de Santa María Golf in Marbella did not have planning permission.
This is because the bank hosted the account of crooked developer Giovanni Piero Montaldo, who was later convicted of bribery as part of the huge Malaya Case.
The couple put a deposit in Piero’s account prior to planned construction in 2003.
But three years later, when they came to sign the deeds, they were told that their home could not be finished as it flouted planning regulations.
The wrongdoing was uncovered by Marbella’s caretaker government, brought in to investigate widespread planning corruption while Jesus Gil, the town’s mayor, was in power.
Lawyers acting for the Brits won the case through citing Ley 57, which gives buyers protection if the developer does not complete and deliver the build.
Banco Popular is still deciding whether to appeal the ruling.