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Alpha Bank Cyprus visited by bailiffs

Bailiffs served warning letters on Alpha Bank Cyprus Ltd on behalf of a law firm representing nearly 400 British nationals who purchased property on the island with loans from the Bank denominated in Swiss Francs.

Alpha Bank Cyprus LtdNEARLY four hundred Britons who claim they were mis-sold mortgages denominated in Swiss Francs by Alpha Bank Cyprus Ltd to buy property on the island have taken their first steps in an effort to recover their losses.

On Friday private bailiffs engaged by a Nicosia-based law firm, instructed by a group of British buyers to pursue their claims of mis-selling, served warning letters on the Alpha Bank. But unlike other groups that want their loans and contracts of sale cancelled, this group wants to renegotiate the terms of their loans with the Bank and recover their losses.

The buyers were given no option other than to take out loans denominated in Swiss Francs instead of Sterling without being notified or warned of the inherent risks associated with exchange rate fluctuations.

In their letter to the Alpha Bank their lawyers assert that this failure constitutes a breach of the Bank’s duty of care to its clients who were not in a position to understand the financial implications of taking out loans in a currency other than the currency of their income; and as a consequence, the Alpha’s clients ended up owing substantially more than if the bank had issued loans in Sterling.

The letter also highlights the fact that in the majority of cases signatures on Power of Attorney documents were not certified in accordance with the law as the Certifying Officer was absent when they were signed. As a consequence, these PoAs were illegally executed and are therefore invalid in law.

The Alpha Bank has been given 21 days to respond.

We understand that bailiffs plan to serve warning letters on other organisations in the days ahead.

Speaking to Cyprus Property News, a spokesperson for the group said “We simply desire compensation for the losses we have sustained and have our loans converted into a stable currency with minimal risks.”

Readers' comments

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  • steve says:

    I was told by my solicitor when we were purchasing our property that if we wanted to switch currency’s then it would be easy and only cost a few hundred pounds in admin charges. Was I mis-sold this mortgage.

  • Madalion says:

    @Jon – I am no longer on the sideline and I am now playing on the pitch so to speak!

    Game on!

  • Jon says:

    Will be interesting to see how the bank responds. In my opinion the only way to deal with Alpha bank is through litigation. Madalion, you will not and should not benefit from the actions of others by standing by on the sidelines. You should take some legal advice ASAP…..the clock is ticking!

  • Kayleigh says:

    This sounds positive and the more pressure on the bank the better. My loan is in GBP, but that makes little difference given the extortionate surcharges, taxes and willy nilly increases in interest rates by the bank. The bank is even charging us for the compulsory developer’s insurance that should be paid for by the developer, not us. In my case, I will not negotiate with the bank. I have no property to speak of, just a bit of dirt in the ground, thanks to the incompetence of the developer and its collusion with the bank. I do think however that any work with the bank will help future investors, but this is no reason for complacency. There are plenty of avenues for the financially challenged and lesser informed in legal matters (like me) such as the European Court of Human Rights.

  • jacko says:

    It is a valid objective for the persons involved to seek to recover relative losses, but to want loans converted to a stable currency with minimum risk is s tall order. Surely no Cyprus bank would agree to a conversion to a fixed loan amount in sterling.

  • Martynxx says:

    The Bank will very likely ‘duck and dive’ on this, have presumably good lawyers advising them. They are clearly culpable. But lets not forget there were ‘other parties’ involved, including if I recall some UK based Agents and ‘Advisers’, I use the latter term ‘advisedly’.

  • Madalion (not Medalion) says:

    Thanks for all your comments.

    @Fighting For Justice – Useful information and makes sense. Will be proactive with this and proceed via a group. All for one and one for all!

    @Mike – True I was looking at every option available to me (Talking to others saying I should wait).
    I know very little about how law works so would be silly not to find out. Thanks for your wishes! :)

    Good luck to all who take action!

  • Jacko says:

    Adding to “experienced investor’s” comment, a smart bank would also take account of the fact that lower Swiss bank loan rates will have offset some of the exchange rate losses incurred.

  • Jacko says:

    Loans in Swiss currency have turned out to be a particularly bad idea. However, if buying property overseas it is usual for the loan to be in the currency of that country. Anyone who claims they were not aware of currency risks should not be willingly buying overseas property in the first place. Losses (or gains) between Sterling and Euros were always an obvious risk (or benefit). Some “investors” bought to flip but because it has not worked out they now plead misspelling. We would all like a heads I win tails you lose outcome.

  • Fighting For Justice says:

    Medalion, you are not going to get the same by default.

    A success by the action would obviously make your own position stronger but you have to do something to get a successful outcome to any situation. It won’t come looking for you and knocking at your door.

    You should also remember that delay may defeat you in any event.

    In English Equity Law we have a well known saying that ‘delay defeats equity’.

  • Chatty says:

    At last the war has begun
    I’m part of this campaign and it has took nearly 2 yrs of work to get to this stage
    The lawyers say we have a very good case if being successful !
    We have now taken the first steps to bringing back the ball into our court!

    Can’t wait to get things moving
    Alpha bank are amateurs to say the least
    I’m in a position where I could have paid off my 112 k mortgage in full but as I owed 198k due to the Swiss franc loss the bank would not even negotiate

  • Mike says:

    Medalion – I do hope you will take all reasonable steps to determine how you could add your name to those of those already striving to recover losses and not just rely on their efforts to achieve a result for you. I’m sure you will.

    This does not affect me but a combined voice and action is preferable to an individuals taking on the might and available resources of these organisations. I wish all concerned well and hope they achieve what they wish for.

  • Experienced Investor says:

    This is very good, but the lawyer has made a big mistake. Us investors have all learnt that when taking a loan to purchase a property that loan should be in the local currency, in this case Euros.

    Since the crisis the losses from CHF – EUR are approx 25% (Swiss franc got stronger against the Euro), but also the losses between GBP – EUR are approx 24% (Sterling got weaker against the Euro). If the bank is smart they will highlight this and prove that the difference in losses between GBP/EUR and CHF/EUR are minimal. The Lawyer should be pushing for the losses in EURO and convert the loan into a Euro currency.

  • Madalion says:

    Very interesting article!

    I am in exactly the same situation with the same bank as these people, but have not taken action yet.

    If I don’t take action and people are successful in this court case, could I then be expected to receive the same deal by default after the decision has been made?

  • Tojo says:

    Ok Nigel, appreciated. I just wonderered what can be gained by staying anonymous? Presume it will be in the public domain when it happens anyway!

  • @Tojo – People send me information in confidence because they know they can trust me not to blurt it out to every Tom, Dick & Harry (and Tojo).

  • Robert Briggs says:

    The Brits are fighting back!

  • Tojo says:

    Ok Nigel, I won’t ask again but no doubt it will come out in the wash. Personally though I can’t see what they have to gain by remaining anonymous, maybe someone can enlighten me.

  • @Tojo – I was asked not to reveal it.

  • Tojo says:

    Good news. Add this to the many individual cases already served and it might just be that someone in authority might actually now start to take notice. Does anyone know which legal firm is representating this group of buyers?

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