British expats in Spain lose €20 million after IFA firm collapses

Published:  9 Nov at 6 PM
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The British boss of a failed pension advisory company has fled to Australia after losing his British expat clients some €20 million by the use of an all too familiar scam format.

The 300 Brits who’d invested with Alicante-based Continental Wealth Management are mostly expats living in the popular Spanish resort of Alicante, and are now struggling to retrieve their lost money after the IFA firm closed its doors in September and its CEO Darren Kirby left for Australia with his ill-gotten gains. Those affected, spread across Spain and in Ibiza, Portugal, Turkey and France, are in fear of being victims to a well-known financial scam as all were asked to sign blank dealing instructions.

On investigation, it transpired their pension pots had been invested in high-risk assets, all of which gave huge commissions to the IFAs concerned. One 69-year old victim told his advisor his investment attitude to risk was low to medium, and has now found he’s lost €210,000 of his €470,000 pension savings in high risk investments. He told the Olive Press he’d been asked by his IFA to sign a blank form to be filled in later, a common practice in financial scams. ‘I trusted him to work in my best interests’, he told reporters, adding they were simply feathering their own nests. He now realises many of the so-called investments were made without his knowledge.

According to another British victim who’s attempting to recover €200,000, some pensioners have lost everything. He said his paperwork had been altered, his risk level was set at high unbeknown to him and dealing instructions had been photocopied many times to facilitate selling and buying of assets without his authorisation. He still has some money, but his fund has shrunk by 50 per cent, causing him to seek compensation. One retiree, he told reporters, has just €50,000 left from €480,000.

Lawyer Antonio Flores, representing a number of victims, is claiming some moneys might be recoverable as certain investments which didn’t perform and some which failed totally were linked to life insurance policies. Pension trustees Trafalgar and Momentum are also attempting to recoup pensioners’ losses. Sadly, the methods used by CMW are identical to those used in other scams in favourite expat retiree hubs across the world. The majority have been published in online media as they progressed, with perhaps the LMIM scandal losing investors the largest sum in total. LMIM investments were mostly sold in Asian countries, with investors in Thailand, Hong Kong and other expat hubs losing all or most of their savings after unregistered IFAs fled back to their home countries.
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