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The Spanish Lawyer Online
The Spanish Lawyer Online

Antonio Flores’ Blog

Thoughts about laws and regulations which affect foreigners in Spain


Archive for February, 2011

Schengen Visa Not Enough to Enter Europe

February 19th, 2011

The story of a Sony Executive from Morocco detained at the Malaga airport by overzealous Spanish National Police, who refused to let her into the country, even when she had been coming to Spain regularly, for business and pleasure (Madrid, Barcelona etc.), shows us that it is not enough to just a have a valid visa, as you will also have to bring with you €577,26 at the very least, a return ticket, and proof of having secured accommodation (other than under a bridge).

Unfortunately for (lets call her) Zineb, she was never told when being granted her 10th visa by the Spanish Immigration Desk at the Consulate in Casablanca of what the border control police expected her to bring when arriving in Spain and, by application of the existing laws, was about to end up being sent back to Casablanca on a next-day early flight.

The Policia Nacional are known for their kind use of legal words: they arrested her but meant to have simply “detained” her, and further communicated that she was being “refused entry”, when a proper deportation was imminent (so then, summary execution, in their euphemistic use of words, would presumably be translated as to be “put out of order” or to “disrupt the existence” of someone).

The laws applied were not being incorrectly quoted but perhaps too harshly applied. I cite the provisions:

Foreigners entering Spain will have to show, if requested to do so, that they have sufficient financial resources equivalent to a minimum amounts, as stated below:

  1. For their maintenance, when staying in Spain, the minimum amount to show, as approved for year 2011, will be of 64,14 Euros per person and day, with a minimum of 577,26 Euros.
  2. A valid return ticket to their country of origin or a third country.

Proof of funds will be made by showing cash or credit cards, in the latter case having also to show bank certificate of proof of balance. Accommodation will also have to be proved, upon request of the border control officials, by either showing an “invitation letter” by a private individual, a hotel booking or a rental contract.

Zineb was short of €377 as she only had €200 in her pocket. Also, she had no proof of accommodation, other than the undertaking from her Bentley-driving boyfriend that he would lodge her in his Marbella home to celebrate St. Valentine (nice of him), who was anxiously waiting outside the “sterile area”, where she was held to avoid “external contamination”, which I found out to be her boyfriend or myself slipping a €500 note in her back pocket.

After using every trick on the lawyers book, i.e. starting off with an angry lawyer’s call invoking police abuse of discretionary powers and arbitrary arrest, to then apologizing for a rather disrespectful first-call approach (ego-restoring exercise), as well as throwing in the timely Valentine´s day to generate pity and affection, and calculated doses of weeping by Zineb, we managed to persuade them to find a crack in the law to pull her in, it being that she complied with just over 50% of the above requirements, whichever way this was calculated!

Immigration ,

SunGolf and Ocean View Property Scandal Hits the Headlines

February 19th, 2011

The SunGolf and Ocean View Property scandal has now hit the headlines, just where it should have been long time ago. But whether this is portrayed as a struggle between two powerful property developing lobbies fighting to control the Dominican turf (Ricardo Miranda on the one side and Sanchez & Lietor on the other), as some wish to put it, the reality is that still over 120 British and Irish property investors are out of pocket through no fault of their own, and no one takes one bit of responsibility.

Mr. Miranda accuses me of perverting the truth in pursuit of media relevance and yet, he does not address the questions raised many times over.

Mr. Miranda accuses me of perverting the truth in pursuit of media relevance and yet, he does not address the questions raised many times over.

It is my understanding that both the President of the Dominican Republic and Monaco Prince Albert, lending their presence to endorse a ghost development, should be held responsible for losses sustained by investors who, having relied on their international prestige when choosing to invest in Punta Perla, are now out of pocket. Their irresponsibility when carrying out appropriate due diligence on the records of Mr. Miranda who, as been published, claimed to have successfully built thousands of properties on the Costa Del Sol (which is false), has to be attributable to a mix of poor advice and, perhaps, succulent incentives.

Some headlines

Litigation, Property, Scams , , , , ,

Spanish Boiler Rooms Dealt With By the FSA

February 10th, 2011

It is a measure of how Britain deals with those lawyers that go astray: the BBC reported, back in May 2010, that a lawyer and his firm had been fined £400,000 and banned for life from the financial services industry for helping bogus share-selling boiler rooms based in Spain. The disciplinary action document was published on the FSA website.

This is in stark contrast with the impunity of some Spanish lawyers based in Malaga that still today act for fraud-recovery boiler rooms (I would like to think that unknowingly), lending their names and registration details with the Law Society so that these so-called firms can deluge the United Kingdom, and other EU countries, with thousands of telephone calls, pretending to be genuine lawyers that can recover losses sustained previously by the recipients of the calls, either on failed property investments or to other fraudsters.

Ramirez and Ramirez, run by Fabian Marcelo Ramirez, is probably the leading bogus law firm on the Costa del Sol, and sits comfortably at the top of a myriad of “recovery rooms” that are costing millions to British citizens, mostly. Mr. Ramirez has even the cheek of suing me, criminally, for divulging defamatory comments that “harm his reputation, and that of his professional firm, on the Costa del Sol”, when it is objectively true that he fronted two previous companies, “Fuengirola Servicios 2002” and “Key Property Town Advisory”, accused of massive timeshare fraud and for which he had been arrested, and that he targets hundreds by cold-calling them offering legal services.

The particular modus operandi of Mr. Ramirez consists now on filing police reports, or “denuncias”, against other bogus operators, attempting to create confusion by diverting the attention of the investigators at the Spanish National Police, all the while projecting an appearance of legitimacy to his activities. Needless to say, real lawyers are never appointed (their names are used though, just as Atlantic law did), powers of attorney are yet to be seen and, of course, monies are never recovered.

How desirable would it not be that the Spanish authorities clamped down on these individuals, once and for all? Very much so, but patience: serious judicial and police measures are on their way, in particular after yet another new “company” has set up to do exactly the same: “Bratley and Sharp”.

Litigation, Scams , , , , ,

Recent Consumer-Friendly Bank Repossession Court Ruling: a Threat to Spanish Banks

February 2nd, 2011

Two posts ago, in my post titled Spanish Property Auction Horror, I mentioned a very innovative court ruling that allowed someone in Navarra to walk away from their property (a process called in Spanish Dacion en Pago) without the risk of going through what the Wiltshire couple mentioned in the post went through.

Some notes on the ruling (PDF, Spanish) so that an opinion can be formed on it:

  • A bank forecloses and repossesses, given that bidders (that species in extreme danger of extinction) fail yet again to turn up. The value given to the property, on application of the mortgage foreclosure archaic provisions, is of approximately €20,000 under the debt.
  • The Court of First Instance rules that it would not be equitable and fair for the bank to charge this amount and reject enforcing collection of this debt.
  • The Court of Appeal, deciding on the legal challenge brought by the bank, does not consider its entitlement to claim a further €20,000, after the property has been repossessed, to be an “abuse of discretion“, from a formal point of view, for the law has been applied in its own terms.
  • The court does consider, conversely, that since the bank allocated a value of €75,000 to the property when the mortgage deeds were signed, this specific aspect of the initial agreement cannot be glossed over and requires further understanding.
  • The court goes on to say that, when appealing the initial ruling, the bank conveys a morally  alarming reflection, it being the known fact that the property is now worth far less due to adverse economic circumstances, adding that such situation is not attributable to the property ex-owner but to international economic crisis reasons, an opinion the Court says is shared by the Spanish Prime Minister as well as Mr. Barack Obama.
  • As a consequence of this, continues the Court of Appeal, the bank, being an integral part of the economic system and therefore not aloof from the above considerations, is partly responsible for their -irresponsible- role in the most savage crisis since 1929.
  • The court then invokes that laws have to be interpreted according to the reality of the time when they are to be applied (article 3 of the Spanish Civil Code) and, to the surprise of many, and in spite of repeating that it would it not be abuse of discretion to enforce the €20,000, reckons it morally reproachable for the bank to pursue borrowers for a fictitious sum when, at the time of granting the loan, the value of the property was more than enough to cover the loan and that this situation has not been occasioned through any fault of their own, nor that of the bank, although the reality is that the latter is a protagonist of the collapsed financial system. It also then adds that bank’s reason for pursuing the borrowers (economic crisis) is a highly sensitive issue that have made a lot of people “hot under the collar”.
  • Finally, the court rules that in respect of the reduced value of the repossessed property, for which the bank showed no documentary evidence, the formal adjudication (repossession) of it, given its initial bank-accepted initial valuation of €75,000, is enough to cancel the debt.

So what have the reactions been to this?

  • Spanish Consumers Associations are understandably over the moon and hail the ruling as very brave. FACUA, one of them, has its reservations as it, they say, the Government that now needs to make a legal move to change the laws. If not, they claim, they will lobby for the laws to be reviewed to accommodate this very consumer-friendly ruling. Finally, they insist that a law-change is necessary to break once and for all with the harrowing consequences that the price-inflating conspiracy plotted by banks and valuation companies has had on consumers.
  • Spanish Bankers Association are understandably mad at it as they claim, if it becomes rule then lending markets may go through turmoil, lenders will increase interest rates, investors would not trust a system where contracts can be broken (yeah, tell this to the victims of the  Spanish off-plan property fiasco, or are they not investors?) and some consideration or other. They encourage banks to fight this new trend.
  • Someone called Moody’s claims that it is an isolated case and that it should not be made rule, given that it would encourage borrowers to default when they feel that the property is in negative equity. It also says that it goes against Spanish laws and warns that, if it sets a precedent, they will have to put the Spanish mortgage market under scrutiny and perhaps, have it revised.

Mortgages, Property , , ,