Malaga expat gets day in court to fight thieving bank

Published:  21 Jan at 6 PM
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Tagged: USA, Euro
A Malaga expat who lost his life savings after a bank sold him an illegal equity bond has vowed to continue his fight.

Euan Armstrong, 75, was sold a €1,000,000 equity release scheme by Danske Bank on the premise that it would protect his family from having to pay inheritance tax after his death. The equity scheme was considered illegal as the bank remortgaged his home and invested the proceeds in their own financial products.

The bank failed to pay him the guaranteed €35,000 annual return on the so-called investment, but also took commission and charges amounting to tens of thousands of euros up to an average of €55,000 per year. Danske even attempted to repossess his home.

Speaking to the European media, Armstrong said he and hundreds of other expat investors who’d fallen foul of the same scheme had lost many millions of euros. By 2010, he said, his one million euro investment had dwindled to €150,000, with the bank pursuing him for the rest to pay for their own losses.

Armstrong has rented out his home in order to have an income, and has been forced to resume work as a yacht captain. He’s unable to give up his fight as he’s aware than hundreds more are suffering and has, along with another of the bank’s victims, formed the Equity Release Victims Association in support of those even less fortunate than himself.

An estimated 500-600 investors are affected, with the illegal schemes totalling some €175 million along the Costa del Sol. Armstrong claims other banks are cashing in on elderly retirees without mortgages, many of whom are now suffering serious stress illnesses.

The Malaga court has rejected a Danske bank appeal against a former judgement that the scheme constituted a criminal offence as well as a civil offence. Two of the bank’s senior officials have been summoned to court to answer charges of suspected criminal financial dealings, leaving Armstrong hoping the mortgage itself will be deemed illegal.
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