EXCLUSIVE by Imogen Calderwood
A LANDMARK case against a European bank in Luxembourg has been lost by hundreds of expats after they were given just five days to prepare their case.
The group of pensioners are now being forced to appeal after only one of their four lawyers was able to attend the last minute hearing against Landsbanki Luxembourg last month.
They claim to have been ‘tricked’ after investigators looking into the mis-selling of an equity release scheme suddenly ordered the case to court in Luxembourg on November 4.
They were at the same time handed a 2,500 page defence document to decipher.
The one lawyer able to attend the hearing insisted he was unable to mount the case due to the court’s ‘impossible time constraints’.
It came after the Luxembourg Court of Appeal announced in July that it had launched a ground-breaking criminal investigation into the now defunct bank.
In particular it was to probe its administrator Yvette Hamilius for fraud and money-laundering.
Hamilius, a lawyer, is allegedly a good friend of new EU president Jean Claude Juncker – and was ‘mentored’ by him, claim the bank’s victims.
“We cannot believe how little time they gave us to prepare our case,” said German expat Dagmar Werner, 73, who lives in Competa.
“Luxembourg does everything it can to stop us fighting Landsbanki. We feel so angry and helpless.”
Victim association president Michael McInnes added: “There is no justice available because of the ‘closed shop’ policy of the Luxembourg judiciary.”
The former Oxford-based politician, now based in Marbella, added: “All that we witness in Luxembourg is corruption and abuse of power on an unprecedented level for a country in the heart of Europe.”
He continued that of the 200-plus expats ‘defrauded’ by the bank in Spain, some 33 have already died, many from ‘stress-related’ illnesses.
The group were sold the equity product, many via Costa del Sol based financial advisor Allan Graydon & Associates, despite the bank not being registered or licenced as an investment bank in Spain.
When the bank went bust in 2008, investors were told they were in the bank’s debt and if they did not pay, their homes would be seized.
Meanwhile, an Icelandic investigation into the affairs of the mother company Landsbanki Iceland has seen the former CEO Sigurjon Arnason, sentenced to 12 months in jail.
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