Search:     Go  
The Spanish Lawyer Online
The Spanish Lawyer Online

Antonio Flores’ Blog

Thoughts about laws and regulations which affect foreigners in Spain


Archive for March, 2011

Buying Property in Spain? It Has Never Been Safer

March 28th, 2011

I make no disguise that, professionally, I am closely connected to property, therefore this post, to many, will have limited significance due to obvious bias. If I was however to collate my experiences over the years, good and bad, when dealing in real estate in Spain, and I compare them with how transactions are conducted these days, I would necessarily conclude that it is now safer than ever to invest in property in Spain.

The crisis has operated like an unstoppable tsunami that has swept right across the property market, sucking in its wake dodgy agents, opportunistic developers, corrupt town hall officials, crooked mortgage brokers (like the one that conned Banesto out of a few millions) and a handful of funny lawyers. And with them, a myriad of very questionable anti-property purchaser practices that had dangerously became close to standard, in spite of almost everyone living, directly or indirectly, on these bona fide consumers or investors. It may be convenient to enumerate these unethical antics, by trades, to keep things in perspective.

We must remember that:

  1. Never again should anyone pay any monies to a developer unless a bank guarantee or an insurance policy is available…, obvious isn’t it? More the point is that, realistically, insurance companies will never touch advance off-plan property payments and banks are likely to request unthinkable amounts of collateral. The immediate consequence of this is that only the very cash-strong will be able to develop and this is just good news.
  2. Never again should anyone pay monies to a developer who:

    1. Does not own the land (Citrus Europe Ltd.)
    2. Does not have a building license (Aifos)
    3. Cannot give bank guarantees (not enough space in this post to name them),
    4. Uses the deposits for a Murcia development to run a complex in Venezuela (Proyectos Antele S.L.)
    5. Uses a bent-as-hell agent as a deposit-collector who then ends up keeping them (Grupo Mirador and Palmera Properties/Gotardo)
    6. Runs away with the portion of the purchase price, earmarked for cancelling the loan on your property, to Germany (Abacon Delta S.L.)
    7. Sells a half built complex to a third party and does not refund (Citrus Playa Macenas S.L. and Ready2Invest )
    8. Takes 60 deposits for an Almeria development to a UK company and then dissolves it (again, Citrus Europe Ltd.)
    9. Or all of those together plus sets up a Ponzi scheme, is known to have never built one property in his entire life in spite of claiming, at a fastouos ceremony, to have erected no less than 6,000 in the Costal del Sol, even persuading gullible Prince Albert to believe such bullshit!  (Sun Golf Desarrollo Inmobiliario S.A. or Mr. Ricardo Miranda Miret).
  3. Never again will developers bully buyers as they were used to doing, as for example La Reserva de Marbella S.A. were experts at. I always wondered why was it that when you bought an apartment for €200,000 you were almost expecting to be treated like s**t, but if you went for a meal you were the king if you tipped handsomely…
  4. Never again will developers make you sign a private purchase contract for 70% of its real price, the balance of 30% to be paid to a Switzerland account, in advance, undocumented and, of course, never to be reflected on the private purchase sale deeds…(any ideas?? :))
  5. Very unlikely (never say never) will a Socialist/Communist Government, regional or otherwise, allow licenses to be granted on thousands of properties only to later, due to political opportunism and a spate of much publicized corrupt Town Hall officials arrests (which I agree with but without the cameras), instigate the revocation of almost all of these licenses, promote demolitions, warn of impending heavy fines on everyone, including the bona fide owners and, in sum, scare the hell out of thousands of those owners plus an undetermined number of potential investors in Spain.

With all we know now in respect of the degrees of criminality so many property developers ran into, an off-plan property industry that is almost non-existent (good old Taylor-Wimpey seems the only one around) and the property-associated corruption almost disappearing, the very few developers that are still around will no doubt jump through hoops to ensure that only la creme de la creme will be sold, at the right price of course!

Litigation, Property, Scams , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mr Ramirez: A Judge Believes that Calling you a Crook is OK!

March 25th, 2011

It is not for me to say so given that, at the end of the day, I don’t even know the man nor have I ever heard him con anyone over the phone.  It is actually Mr. Manuel Jaen Vallejo, presiding Judge at the Criminal Court in Malaga, who by virtue of a ruling dated the 11th of March 2011 has actually admitted that naming Mr. Mr. Fabian Marcelo Ramirez “swindler” and “crook” is actually not wrong.

The ruling came about in relation to the fight we are waging against legal boiler rooms, also known as recovery rooms, who, far from shying away from the police forces, are seemingly more active than ever (and more desperate as well). Mr. Ramirez, cocky as anyone could get, filed a court case last year against me and two more members of staff accusing us of harming his good name and impeccable reputation through several forums and blog posts.

The Judge has based his ruling on a Malaga Police report (below) that, basically, states that Mr. Ramirez has been arrested 4 times (years 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2008), for falsely promising his victims to recover  the moneys lost to many Costa del Sol-based boiler rooms, in exchange of an upfront fee.

Mr. Ramirez, according to the Malaga Police Fraud Group, has operated a succession of companies that were all devoted to scamming mostly British innocent timeshare owners. The Court ruling finds, quite naturally, that it is fully coherent and consistent with the above report to name Mr. Fabian Marcelo Ramirez a conman, and that freedom of expression has to prevail, above any other consideration, given its intense public interest.

I presume further action, by the Malaga Police Forces, is now underway.


Scams , , , , ,

Is the Moroccan Legal System Third-World? I Wouldn’t Say So!

March 9th, 2011

If I was unsure as to whether I did the right thing by accepting to post the filming of this trial, I suppose I have definetely waived goodbye to Morroco for good once this footage is published. Or perhaps not, because as, after all, any spy worth his salt would expect the order of the boot if he came back to their bosses with this material, largely irrelevant for most, but interesting for the approximately 80 Irish investors  that have lost their deposits to Asilah Invest and Simple Property Solutions, or Joseph Znaty Mirmaran and Karl Morris. Mind you, the story is familiar, both denying having the funds

But for all our preconceptions, not unfounded should I add (Morocco is ranked in the position 89 of Coruption perception Index 2009) , the Morocann legal system has worked wonders for my Spanish friend and his brother. When Manolo and his brother decided to invest €100,000 at Asilah Marina Golf (located in a typical fishing atlantic village), through a Marbella-based real estate agent, he placed his trust in the bona fide nature of the individuals involved. As has happened so many times though, the developer turned out to be rogue, the agent washed his hand of the project and an acting lawyer was not to be found (quite simply, they never hired one).

So when Manolo found out that the developer had been remanded in custody at the Tangiers prison for fraud, he and his brother decided to take the plunge and pursue the chap through the city courts, in spite of the common perception of these being corrupt, opaque, inefficient and always prone to interference from the King, should his interests be at stake.

And the plunge worked because, three months after they pressed charges for swindle and missapropriation against the developer at a Police Station, the Criminal Court in Tangier summoned both parties for a “conciliatory attempt”, urging them to reach an agreement. Already jailed in the Satfilage Prison, the prospect of serving further time in this horrendous penitentiary where, according to two Spanish former inmates rats resemble warthogs and cockroaches are likened to caimans (some cells enjoy the services of a cat, but he too has to attend the call of nature so it, naturally,gets worse ), worked  in favour of Manolo and his brother as a tangible agreement was reached. The prison-freeing settlement consisted in registering a charge against a plot of land in the Malaga province (Alcaucin), as a guarantee for an undertaking of repayment of the deposits within 24 months. Well, better than sex we thought, all things considered!

Would this have happened in Spain? No chance. If you were lucky enough, you would suing the developer, at the criminal courts, for missapropriation, hoping that he would come forward with a proposal to settle the debt (probably with another property considering that money would be gone), if he felt that the legal tide could turn against him by application of current case law (that ultimately could see him interned, after 5-6 years). If you were unlucky, you would be stuck with a civil claim against the developer alongside hundreds of creditors, within an insolvency procedure (i.e. Aifos), for years, and if you were terribly unlucky, you would also be cold-called by some Fuengirola-based legal services boiler/recovery room (e.g.. Ramirez and Ramirez, Legal Property Solutions, Bratley and Sharp etc.) by whom you would be ripped off again.