Spanish Property scandal attacked in Brussels

For years, MEPs across the country, including myself, have received heart-rending complaints from British expatriates who have invested their life savings in a dream bungalow for their retirement in Spain, overlooking the sea, only to be notified that they have fallen foul of local zoning laws and that their property will be repossessed, and often destroyed.  Sometimes to add insult to injury they will also receive a massive bill for providing new utility services to the site.  Then their property and others nearby will be turned over to a local developer, who will make a fortune from high-rise flats.  There are persistent and worrying reports of unduly close relations between developers and Spanish local councils.

These complaints have been taken many times to the Petitions Committee of the European parliament, upon which I sit, which has pressed the Commission to take action against Spain.  Meanwhile the Spanish government blames the regions, while the regions blame the government.

Now the Petitions Committee is considering a new and robust report from Mrs Auken, a Danish Green MEP. Yesterday we heard representations from petitioners who have lost their homes, from the Commission, from the Valencia Regional government – though not from the Spanish government, which declined to attend – and I myself was moved to talk on the victims’ behalf, delivering the speech below.

I do think that at last the anger and frustration of our constituents, and our anger and frustration on their behalf, is getting through to the Commission and to the Spanish authorities.  We will not let up on this one.
My speech to the Committee:

“Mr. Chairman,

“May I congratulate Mrs Auken (the rapporteur) on her excellent and robust report.  However our debate has been bogged down in legalistic, bureaucratic and environmental jargon.  This is not about Town and General Planning.  It is not about Water Resources.  It is not about Public Tendering.  It is about thousands of European citizens having their property confiscated and their homes destroyed.  Those homes were probably their biggest financial assets.

“We talk about freedom and democracy and the rule of law, but we cannot have freedom without property rights, legal certainty and enforceable contracts.  These are being denied in Valencia.

“The Regional Ombudsman talks about “the democratic legitimacy of urban planning”.  But there is no democratic legitimacy in property confiscation.  It is just plain theft.  I am shocked at the outrageous contribution from the Representative of the Valencia Regional government.  She speaks of the Land Use Laws, and “sharing the benefits of land ownership”.  Mr. Chairman, this is the Robert Mugabe school of land re-distribution.

“I would like to join with my colleague Sir Robert Atkins MEP who spoke of the anger and frustration of the people we represent over this issue.  They are expecting this Petitions Committee, and the European parliament, and the other European institutions to stop talking and to do something to end this scandal”

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33 Responses to Spanish Property scandal attacked in Brussels

  1. adrian hobbs says:

    Thank MS Auken for her efforts.What can you do to stop this scandal following the report? The talking so far has not helped over 100,000 people and from what we are seeing and hearing in Spain theres more to come out the woodwork.

  2. Stephen Reddy says:

    I’d also like to thank Margaret Auken for her courage to speak out, but I’d like to point out it is not just Valencia but other parts of Spain. I am one of thousands who have seen our deposit stolen by a developer in Murcia, where they have been allowed to get away with not issuing Bank Guarantees to 90% of purchasers. The legal powers don’t appear to have any and the whole system is a scam, including banks, agents and a disfunctional legal system who still use black money.

  3. roland wright says:

    How do I send a email to Margarete Auken in support of her report and about more expat problems in Spain

  4. Peter Dunn says:

    The developer Antonio Hernandez Gomis has also been involved in building previous properties on protected rural land (Citrus irrigation) – he is respnsible for building the illegal estate of Finca Los Mazones on the Costa Blanca.
    The company name was Fincaexpert, since changed to Cleyton Ges – now building the Fincaparcs project.
    The owners on Los Mazones have purchased properties now found to be totaly illegal and have lost a lot of money as they fight a legal battle to complete the estate’s infrastructure and legalise their homes.
    We request help from the EU to protect our human rights and help end the wholesale corruption that is engulfing Spain’s construction industry.

  5. Carlos_T. says:

    In german there is an old saying “kommt wir spanisch vor”, which translates into “seems to be spanish” and means odd and tricky. A new example is an industrial estate planned by the city of Vinaros, Castellon, Valencia. The community intends to convert 2,5 mio. square metres of greenland into an industrial estate (poligono industrial). The land lays 6 km away from the town with mainly greenland in between. The demand for such a project (apart from the negative impact to the environment) is more than questionable as directly at the boundaries of the city thousand of sqm of commercial land remain unusued, buildings stay empty or have never been completed. It’s said that the money to buy the land (and to chase the owners away) comes from the Ministerio de Industria but they should rather spend money to get their waste disposal in compliance with existing local and european law than to spoliate the countryside.

  6. John Paul Pritt says:

    I am one of the investors who has been swindled out of £24,000 deposit by Antonio Hernandez and Bank CAM.
    Does Spain have an anti corruption organisation or does it welcome with open arms swindlers and confidence tricksters?

  7. Johnpaul Pritt says:

    Asa I mentioned in a previous comment I have been swindled by Antonio Hernandez and CAM Bank. I have done a lot of research and found that the GES in the name Cleyton Ges is Global Enterprise Solutions, acompany registered in Brighton England whose finance director is Michael Kennedy, who purports to be a financial Advisor and persuaded me to invest in Finca Parcs. Finca Parcs uk address is also in the UK in New Mills High Peak c/o Chafes solicitors. Cleyton Ges are still trading and now call themselves Select Properties promoting developments in Albania, Turky and Dubai and also Las Higuericas Hellin.
    Just this month a judge in Spain has ruled that the planning permission for said estate is illegal and has annullled the decision as the Las Higuericas development is on a site of scientific interest. Anybody wishing further information I will be glad to help out. The Spanish authorities could easily arrest these criminals but seenm reluctant to do so and I shall be alerting the appropriate authorities in Britain, ie Serious Fraud Office

    • P Dunn says:

      Johnpaul,

      Please can you leave contact detail…im interested in some points you have mentioned in your recent post.
      I am a one of the many victims of Mr Hernandez and would be interested to cross reference some of the info posted…thanks in anticipation

  8. Those interested in trying to recover deposits held by property developers and banks in Spain should visit:

    http://www.spanishpropertyactiongroup.com

  9. SEABASTIAN TOOMES says:

    Snr. Gomis has perpetrated a fraud against many people in many areas of Spain. One wonders how has been able to carry out this fraud with apparent impunity. Officials somewhere must be involved. I hope that MEPs can bring pressure to bear to root out this corruption.

  10. Karl Troendle says:

    I found, writing to MEP’s leads to nothing. They are big in debating, in writing reports and making announcements. But nothing follows, it brings the spanish burocrats to lough. The EP -to this date- has shown to be a toothless paper tiger.

  11. Karl Dunn says:

    The Junta de Andalucia condoned rampant development and have enjoyed the huge financial benefits, they have been the primary motivators of these property scandals.
    Having been caught out, they respond in a typical tyrannical manner, terrorizing the weakest in their community. These callous and ruthless beings in power have been ordering uniformed police, presumably armed, to knock on elderly peoples doors, with the warnings, that their lives are about to come to an end, “the feared demolition order”, how twisted and bitter to carry this out just before Christmas. What excuse do the police have, “we are only carrying out our orders”
    Had these buffoons at the Junta done the work they had been so handsomely paid for, none of this would be taking place.
    These terrorists at the Junta must and should be taken to task for their criminal activities, ruining the lives of so many and bringing so much shame on the whole of Spain

  12. Karl Dunn says:

    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH – DEMOLITIONS IN ALBOX

    Peaceful Protest March 11th January

    The presentation, just before Christmas, of demolition orders to unsuspecting homeowners in Albox, without any sign of compensation, has been the catalyst for the community to take to the streets and make its voice heard. The AUAN (an organisation of homeowners in the area campaigning to obtain legal status for local properties) is organising a march in Almeria town on the 11th of January to protest against this scandal and appeal to the authorities to respond to the just demands of those innocent people who invested in good faith and are now facing the possible loss of their home and life savings.

    We are protesting against legal and planning uncertainty, against bad administration and corruption, against the failure to respect citizens’ human rights and against the failure of the administration to comply with European Parliament resolutions including the Auken report.

    We cannot sit back and watch these demolitions and will do everything possible to avoid this injustice.

    March Route

    The starting point for the demonstration is the Puerta de Purchena at midday (12.00). The route is envisaged to follow the Ramble de Obispo Orbera to the Rambla de Almería (Avenida de Federico García Lorca). There will be a pause for speeches in the area of the Obelisk in calle Regina Regente and the marchers will return to Puerta de Purchena at approximately 15.00.

    We are not prepared to stand politely by as more unfortunate families are destroyed through no fault of their own. Recourse to further demolitions will only further damage Spain’s image abroad. The authorities must be made to realise that to continue with these actions is not acceptable, is contrary to the rights of its citizens, attracts damaging and hostile publicity and is tantamount to economic suicide in this region.

    Support Us

    We ask all citizens and groups who wish to raise their voice and make their presence felt to turn up and support us.

  13. Karl Dunn says:

    The Junta de Andalucia´s so called plan for a possible solution has been based entirely on investigations and data collected by a team of inspectors headed by a rogue, illegal homes builder who is subject to criminal legal proceedings. Local Mayors in the Almanzora valley, see no problems with this.

    • martin pennels says:

      karl .
      do you have the name of the person heading up these investigations? no need to put any allegations in the response for libelous reasons .

      • Karl Dunn says:

        Dear Sir,
        Yes I have the name, all contact details and documentation which has caused a dirty tricks reaction.
        Unfortunately I do not know his level of influence, I believe very wide, possibly even into the judicial system, the corruption is rife.
        My investigations, now lead me onto the defensive.
        Regards,
        Karl Dunn

  14. Platinum says:

    I really still can not believe that ANY proper solutions have been found concerning Land Grab in the European parliament. If this were in the UK, it would have been brought to a complete halt years ago. This really shows how much power the EU parliament has in its very own EU countries such as Spain. It is time to toughen up, or move them out – simple.

  15. Karl Dunn says:

    Don´t complain in Spain.
    I am being hauled of to court next week,unspecified crime, will be informed at time of hearing, denuncia by developer of illegal homes and subject to criminal proceedings.
    I can only assume my complaints as a victim who was sold one of his illegal and sub standard homes has been considered a far more serious crime. Is this really Europe?
    Is there any doubt that we are being persecuted.

    • pedro says:

      when you get to court for the denuncia you can counter-denounce the builder once the hearing is over. I take it you will take to court all documentary proof against the person who you believe to have denounced you, a solicitor should be taken to to assist. Good luck. In the long run it may work in your favour – get your community who have bought illegal homes from the same builder to assist in the denuncia.

  16. Karl Dunn says:

    Thanks for your advice Pedro. The Builder is already subject to criminal proceedings by the police and subject to a criminal denucia initiated by myself, these do not appear to see the light of day.
    I receive a court summons, denounced by the person and have no idea what for, so fail to see how I can counter denunce or even make a case to defend myself.
    Could this be just a case of intimidation by someone with a great deal of influence?

  17. Dunn says:

    “ODD AND TRICKY”.

    The word “SPANISH” synoymous for the meaning “ODD AND TRICKY”.
    Eleven thousand Spanish home owners, mostly British, in the Almanzora Valley have been branded as criminals by the “Despot” of Andalucia, JUAN ESPADA, when he said all the owners of homes dictated to be illegal, will have to pay, NOT the criminal developers, builders, lawyers or authorities.
    What a shame, it will be many years before we trust a word coming out of the mouths of these Spanish authorities, “odd and tricky”
    Is it now time to let Spain know it is no longer a welcome member of the European Community.

  18. Margarita says:

    I hope I am not to late for may comment…. in the case of the Costas Act the central governement of Spain is the terrorist, the one that grabs the properties with no compensation. They do not pay attencion whatsoever to any recomendations from the EU. Some real acction is needed

  19. Pingback: Marta Andreasen on radio today 11.15 - Spain

  20. dunn says:

    JUAN JOSE LOZANO SAEZ, of Proyme Inginieros, an Albox based engineering and architect company, nominated by Albox town hall to lead an inspection team to provide an inventory of houses for the Junta de Andalucia while himself subject to legal proceedings for his part in constructing and selling illegal homes, was together with his father,both visibly shaken in the dock of the Almeria courts 23rd June 2010.
    Can we hope he and his father get their come uppence with a stiff prison sentence, reflecting their victims suffering.
    This being Spain, it is more likely the victims will have to pay and suffer even more, while they get off with their ill gotton gains.
    WHY DOES IT TAKE FIVE YEARS TO ASK THESE CRIMINAL BUILDERS IF THEY HAVE A LICENSE TO BUILD?
    WHY ARE LAWYERS ALLOWED TO SELL ILLEGAL HOUSES?
    WHY CAN TOWN HALLS CONDONE THE ILLEGAL BUILDIDING AND OPERATE RELATED BUSINESSES OF EXTORTION?
    The answer may be with,the Junta de Andalucía’s new housing tzar, Rosa Urioste, at a recent meeting she was reported to have shreaked, “WE HAVE RULES AND THEY MUST BE OBEYED”
    Where have we heard that before

  21. dunn says:

    THE ANDALUCIAN ILLEGAL HOUSING SOLUTION.
    The ministers at the Junta de Andalucia have worked hard over the last few years to resolve the problem of 250,000 illegal homes. We have had many reassuring words, “stay calm, don´t be concerned, it may not happen,we are doing everything possible, and we must remember, that in Spain, the law is the law”. How many elderly expatriates living in Spain were reassured by those words? These “Despots”, who succeeded in terrorising thousands of the most vulnerable European settlers have now been sacked, many of us breathed a sigh of relief, wonderful news, at long last the authorities have come to their senses. Unbelievable, but true we have a new Minister for housing, who is also working hard to resolve the illegal housing problems, with her slogan, “we have rules and they must be obeyed” and another reassuring message to stay calm, we should not be worried as the illegal homes would be dealt with on a case by case bases and not be demolished all at once.
    So after all the hard work put in by these “buffoons” the figures for illegal homes has increased to 300,000.
    In the Almanzora valley a figure of 1200 illegal homes was bandied about some four years ago, many voiced their opinions that these were largely exaggerated, again after much hard work and many promises over the last few years, these figures increased to an approximate 5000 to 6000.
    With these sort of numbers the Junta has now taken things serious, working even faster and harder, an Inspection team to collect an inventory of housing, of course they have learnt some lessons and know what they are doing.
    They nominate a reputable local company, which markets illegal houses built and sold by their boss who is subject to criminal proceedings.
    Now with an illegal homes builder and developer onboard, we would, if nothing else expect the numbers to be reduced.
    Having calmed our fears with explanations of work going on as fast as possible for a solution to these problems, we now find 11000 illegal homes in the Almanzora valley and an escalation of court hearings with charges for more and more demolitions.
    The Junta de Andalucia has already threatened the victims with the bill for legalising their homes. It does not take a lot of savvy who benefits by these increased number of illegal properties.
    “PLEASE DO NOT BE CONCERNED, IT MAY NEVER HAPPEN”, OR “TRUST US, WE ARE DOING EVERYTHING WE CAN”.

  22. Keith says:

    You may be aware that the Spanish Government, in particular, the development minister Sr. Jose Blanco are putting on a series of Road Shows around Europe promoting the ‘transparency and legal security’ associated with buying a property in Spain. The first stop on the first phase of their tour is London on 4 May 2011. This first phase is aimed at institutional/corporate investors. The second phase planned for June will be for the general public and according to the press release; agents and companies endorsed by the Spanish Government will be promoting their properties at the show.

    Here is some more info on the Road Shows with my comments at the bottom:

    Sr. José Blanco the Spanish Development Minister (El Ministro de Fomento) has announced that the Spanish Government Official Property ‘Road Show’ will commence in London on 4 May 2011.

    In the official press release issued on 14 April 2011 in Madrid by the Ministerio de Fomento Sr. Blanco said:

    “The Road Show will highlight the strengths of our economy, transparency and legal certainty of our planning legislation.

    It is a good time to carry out this pioneering initiative because the markets that have the potential to invest in second homes are recovering and we must revive the holiday housing market ‘to speed up the digestion of stock’

    In selecting the countries to be visited in this first round of Road Shows we have taken into account variables such as the volume of house purchases in Spain that its citizens have made in recent years, its investment in general in our country, the situation of their respective economies and the potential for increased investment in our second homes market.

    The United Kingdom is the first international destination for this first round of Road Shows because, according to the latest data available, its citizens and investors in 2009 accounted for 31.5% of foreign buyers of property in Spain.

    In subsequent weeks we will also visit France, Germany, Holland and Sweden. In addition we will visit also Russia.

    The Road Show is designed in two phases: in the first phase the Ministry of Development will transmit confidence to large investors and brokers, offering all the information regarding our market, ongoing policy reforms and greater transparency regarding the evolution of prices and stock. Subsequently we will develop a second phase, open to private sector participation, with a selection of real estate products that meet minimum standards of legality, planning and quality through an evaluation process in which agents and companies interested in participating in this round may voluntarily submit their properties and products”.

    Speaking to Onda Cero radio station Sr. Blanco defended the need for the Road Show by stating that “The fact is that there is a ‘stock’ of residential housing and it is necessary to speed up sales because it is weighing heavily on the sector financially”.

    He said “It seems that I have become a real estate agent but my role is to ensure greater legal certainty to potential investors following many campaigns against the Spanish property sector”

    ****************************************************************

    Is Sr. Blanco really serious? “highlight the strengths of our economy, transparency and legal certainty of our planning legislation”

    This is an insult to all those of us who stand to lose so much due to the corruption and negligence in the Spanish Property Sector. The Spanish Property Sector certainly does not have any transparency or legal certainty!!

    Sr. Blanco said “It seems that I have become a real estate agent but my role is to ensure greater legal certainty to potential investors following many campaigns against the Spanish property sector”

    Does Sr. Blanco not think that those campaigns against the Spanish property sector are fully justified? What has Sr. Blanco and the Spanish Government done to address those campaigns? Nothing! It is an embarrassment to the country of Spain.

    It seems Sr. Blanco is trying to blame the campaigns for the lack of legal certainty in the Spanish Property Sector!! Just like the rest of them he is passing the buck. These are the actions and words of a desperate man hoping that a miracle will happen and that all the campaigners will just ‘go away’.

    Sr. Zapatero is leading a weak government who is failing to tackle the problems. Instead they are trying to ignore the victims and move forward with a Road Show to promote transparency and legal certainty which are elements of the Spanish Property Sector that simply do not exist. On 6 July 2010 Sr. Zapatero said in the European Parliament “We stand shoulder to shoulder with those people, who maybe have had the wool pulled over their eyes in the property sector”. More empty words I am afraid.

    In February 2011, when previewing the upcoming Road Shows the Spanish Housing Minister, Sra. Beatriz Corredor Sierra said: “Come here calmly and trust in the system that we have and the transparency we provide”

    Sr. Blanco and Sra. Corredor need to understand that for thousands of victims of the Spanish Property Sector there was and still is no ‘transparency or legal certainty’.

    Despite many empty words by Spanish Government officials there still remains little evidence of any ‘ongoing policy reforms’.

    Lawyers and Banks have been negligent, the court system is overloaded, judges are inconsistent and real justice is still an expensive dream for many victims.

    There remains a basic lack of understanding of LEY 57/68 (the law relating to Bank Guarantees) and in many cases the law is not applied properly.

    The Supervisor of the Spanish Banking System – the Banco de España is totally ineffective and has no real power. The result is that the Banks have been allowed to ignore their obligations according to LEY 57/68 and work together with the corrupt developers to blatantly steal purchaser’s off-plan deposit funds.

    It is a serious mess and Sr. Blanco and the Spanish Government have NOTHING to put on a show about. Before making more empty promises and embarking on a Road Show designed to entice other unsuspecting ‘victims’ into the shambles that is the Spanish Property Sector Sr. Blanco must, together with his government colleagues, rectify the serious injustices that have taken place over the past decade in their country.

  23. Duarte caçança says:

    Mr. Antonio Hernández-Gomis is offering is spanish mastiff dogs to run away. Get him or you loose your money.

  24. Pedro says:

    Hi Duarte,

    any more news on Snr gomis?

    • John davis says:

      We had a deposit on a property in Hellin which was on phase 1 and fouind that, due to the delays, we sought to recover our monies, in this case in excess of euro 100000.
      Following the rules that apply to deposits and guarantees, the process was simple and within 3 months all monies were repaid to our account in CAM.

      Suggest that proceedures are foloowed, no need for lawyers, just an interpreter tio go with you to sign docs at the bank. Have a try.

      John of Almoradi

      • Arthur Ennimore says:

        Agreed, it all seems very simple AS LONG AS THE MONEY WAS PAID INTO THE BANK IN THE FIRST PLACE. Unfortunately in many cases this was not done, and as usual in Spain the criminal builder/developer gets clear away

  25. Arthur Ennimore says:

    As one of the many victims of Sr. Antonio Hernandez-Gomis and his fraudulent deals (houses built on rustic land with no planning permission, No roads, no mains water or electricity, no septic tanks for which we were charged etc. etc.) I was one of many who denounced him in this area only to find that we must bring a civil case against him. Isn’t fraud – in our case downright stealing, therefore a CRIMINAL offense under the Theft Act??
    Now the new administration in the Orihuela Town Hall have promised to jointly bring a case with us against Gomis as a CRIMINAL offense, but we are advised that we still must pay.. WHY?
    Also the new TH has promised that the 8000 illegal houses in Orihuela area are to be legalised but may cost up the 60,000 euros per property.. Add this huge amount to what we have already paid in legal fees,updating Electricity,, and sundry other huge bills and the additions alone add up to more money than the places can be sold for.
    I am a pensioner, who is now penniless because I have been been fleeced by this corrupt country who doesn.t give a fig about human rights or the treatment of foreigners as long as they get their huge sums of european cash every year.
    Criminal builders, lawyers and Estate Agents should all be hunted down, their ill-gotten gains confiscated, and then locked up for many years.
    Power to the elbows of MEPs such as RogerHelmer, Michael, Cashman, MargaretaAuken, Marta Andreasen, and Nigel Farage and many more who are fighting our corner but with their hands tied

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