EXCLUSIVE by James Bryce
A GROUP of expats are launching an action group after claiming to have been ‘ripped off’ by a Spanish-based financial services company.
They are taking legal advice after the boss of company Offshore Investment Brokers (OIB) returned to the UK from Spain without warning.
The dozens of victims claim to have been mis-sold by David Driver, whose company was not regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) or its Spanish equivilent, the CNMV.
The Olive Press can reveal that Driver, a former policeman, has now moved back to London to work as head of Middle East sales for finance group ATSG Funds.
He has apparently cut all ties with his company OIB, announcing to friends on his Twitter feed recently: “Some news, we’ve sold our company! I’m moving back to the UK, York.”
Group action organiser Paul O’Connell, who lives in Mijas, is furious that Driver is apparently ‘washing his hands’ of his Spanish company.
Irishman O’Connell, 55, had been advised by Driver to take out a €260,000 10-year loan secured against the value of his property.
But the investment failed and the value of the loan is currently 50 per cent down.
“Driver kept saying: ‘Sit tight, things are only going to get better’, but suddenly I was unable to get hold of him.
“I’ve been told I’ve got toxic debt, which means creditors can start calling in this money and I could lose my apartment at any time. My impression was that Driver was in it for when times were good and would get out when things went bad.
“All these people do is pack up and start up somewhere else.
“He didn’t tell me he was going, I heard it second-hand. That doesn’t bode well.”
The Olive Press has been inundated with calls and emails from investors since running a story about OIB earlier this year.
The European Commission agreed to start investigating ‘rogue’ firms after a dossier, using OIB as an example, was sent by the Costa del Sol Action Group to Brussels earlier this year.
The report stated the company was able to trade ‘collecting unsuspecting clients who are soon relieved of their money’.
One victim, pensioner Carol Maxted-Massey, based in Almeria, claims to have lost nearly €200,000 to the company.
She told the Olive Press: “I ended up buying myself out of a 10-year loan agreement on my house, and it took all my savings and left me with no money apart from my pension.”
Another victim added: “Driver is a clever trickster who gains the confidence of his clients and then acts like a parasite.
“Who would have thought that an Englishman would leech the lifeblood out of his own countrymen.”
Even his former partner J Hilborne revealed that she had been ‘conned both financially and emotionally’ by him.
After a two-year relationship, living with him in Estepona, she ended up with ‘no home, no job, no car and £10,000 poorer.”
OIB claims on its website that its ‘reputation and years of experience enable us to offer a highly personalised and confidential service to the most demanding of clientele’.
But that ‘personalised service’ is not immediately obvious when attempting to contact the firm, with the only option being a generic form on the website.
Despite numerous calls and emails Driver did not respond to the Olive Press, neither via OIB, nor his new company ATSG.
A woman answering the phone at his current company ATSG insisted that neither he nor the boss John Ferguson was available to comment.