23 Mar, 2024 @ 09:19
2 mins read

EXCLUSIVE: British expats and locals fight back against ‘mafia-style’ community presidents on Spain’s Costa del Sol

BRITISH homeowners are calling time on community presidents who are accused of wielding far too much power in the urbanisations they manage. 

The backlash is growing after it was revealed that Stephen Hills, the British president of the Torre Bermeja urbanisation in Estepona, was paying himself a salary of almost €90,000 – more than the president of Andalucia and the vice president of Spain. 

Since the story exploded, a string of other presidents have come under the spotlight, including Norwegian ex-billionaire Harald Oslov. 

Oslov is accused by a group of homeowners in Benemara Dos Hermanas, also in Estepona, of paying ‘extortionate’ sums for basic maintenance works and for constructing a garage next to his home without planning permission.

The accounts have been branded a ‘black hole’ featuring ‘inexplicable sums’, including gardener salaries of over €45,000 per year each, which residents claim they did not approve. 

UNDER PRESSURE: Harald Osvold (left), while right, Gianni Fieno

And Oslov, who owns a painting company in Gibraltar, refuses to reveal who is behind some of the works. 

It comes after community fees reportedly increased by 22% over the past two years.

One Brit told the Olive Press: “Our fees are continuously increasing and we get no further services for it… it seems there is a black hole where money is being buried.

“They use the proxy votes of Brits and other foreigners to vote in any measure they want.”

When contacted by the Olive Press, a spokesperson for Oslov denied all the claims made by the homeowners, branding them ‘defamation’. Oslov, who was president for 40 years, and his VP, resigned just days after being contacted by this newspaper. 

However, residents told this newspaper that he has ‘handpicked’ the next candidates for presidency, which will be announced at an AGM meeting within days. 

Meanwhile in Marbella, the president of the Cabopino community, Gianni Fieno, and its administrator Michelle van Gaalen, are being investigated for falsifying documents and cooking the books. 

Residents there said that the pair have ‘kidnapped the community’ and run it like a ‘cabal’. 

Stephen Hills has stood up for his community for 20 years, say locals (CREDIT: Olive Press Spain)

The pair, both expats, are accused of “surrounding themselves with friends” and gaining the votes of owners – some of whom they allegedly let off their community fees as a reward for giving them their proxy votes at general meetings. 

Elsewhere, homeowners in Lomas de los Monteros, Marbella, have denounced the president of the community and the administrator for allegedly transferring €30,000 euros to their personal accounts. 

It came after community fees soared to €6,000 per year but residents were not allowed to see accounts nor how the money was being spent – raising alarms. 

A court decided it was a civil matter, however, and not a criminal one, with the complainants left feeling “helpless”, according to reports in Spanish press.

Are you suffering similar circumstances where you live? Contact [email protected]

Laurence Dollimore

Laurence has a BA and MA in International Relations and a Gold Standard diploma in Multi-Media journalism from News Associates in London. He has almost a decade of experience and previously worked as a senior reporter for the Mail Online in London.

GOT A STORY? Contact [email protected] or call +34 951 273 575 Twitter: @olivepress

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