ALMOST 100 expats are battling to get their passports back after police confiscated them two years ago over a car import scam.
The group are being investigated for fraud and being part of a criminal organisation after using a shady British-owned company that dealt with the paperwork.
A total of 97 people, which also includes a few Spanish, all unwittingly used the company Car Import Spain to transport their vehicles.
Despite British boss Chris Dann allegedly taking the blame, the clients have had their passports seized and must report to court twice a month as part of the investigation.
One victim, Dutch expat Johan van Wershoven, is now appealing to the court in Barcelona to speed up the investigation so he can get on with his life.
“I cannot believe this is still dragging on,” Van Wershoven, 51, told the Olive Press. “When I was first called to Malaga court in 2014 I thought they had made a mistake.”
Van Wershoven and his wife Ria used the Barcelona-based company, which set up in 1990, to transport their BMW 535i when they moved to Mijas from California in 2013.
Despite obtaining Spanish registration and a Baja Consular (a document needed to cover import tax), Tarragona-based Dann submitted forged documents to the traffic department.
“I have no idea why he didn’t submit our genuine documents,” computer programmer Van Wershoven continued.
“He obviously cut corners to make his life easier, but despite knowing all this, the courts still refuse to give my passport back.”
While can travel around Europe under his Dutch ID card, he revealed that a number of British clients are ‘unable to travel and are stuck in Spain’.
Van Wershoven and his wife have since moved to Portugal, to ‘get away from the awful Spanish bureaucracy’.
“I love Spain and its people. But this has left a bitter taste in my mouth,” he said. “Our lives now revolve around the days I have to check in at court, twice a month.
“Every time I cross the border I am reminded of the nightmare I have been living.”
A new law that insists passports can only be held for six months in investigations, is currently under appeal.
Car Import Spain has long ceased trading, with Dann’s mobile number now cut off and emails bouncing back.
A spokesman for Barcelona’s Court number 12 confirmed the case was ongoing but refused to comment further.
If anyone knows where Dann is or more about the case, email firstname.lastname@example.org