A PARLIAMENTARY debate at Westminster Hall heard from Andrew Gwynne MP that he had been contacted by a number of people in his constituency about the mis-selling of Swiss Franc mortgages by Alpha Bank in Cyprus and poor advice received from solicitors purporting to be acting on their behalf.
Andrew Glynne focussed on a case involving one of his constituents, who he referred to as “Mr TC”.
In 2007 Mr TC and his brother-in-law wanted to purchase a retirement property in Cyprus through a UK company called ROPUK and after meeting with the company’s representatives they decided to go ahead with the purchase. Having paid a deposit of £25,000 they understood that when the property was completed they would visit Cyprus to inspect the property and then sign a mortgage agreement.
They were advised by ROPUK’s representative that a Swiss Franc mortgage would be best, but they did not sign up to any agreement, except to give a Cypriot lawyer Power of Attorney in any transactions that they agreed to.
In 2010, when the property was due for completion, Mr TC visited Cyprus to monitor the progress of the build; he found that it wasn’t even half finished – and it’s still the same today in 2015.
Mr TC believes that the Power of Attorney was not executed in accordance with the common or Cypriot law, therefore rendering it illegal – and anything signed using the Power of Attorney invalid.
Mr TC and his brother-in-law first heard of Alpha Bank when the bank started to pursue them for payment. They did not personally sign any mortgage agreement; it was signed by a third party without their knowledge or consent and they had never even seen the mortgage agreement with the Alpha Bank despite repeated requests.
They believe that the Alpha Bank, in effect, released all of the money from their fraudulently obtained mortgage agreement to fund something that is simply not there.
They now owe the bank some £257,000 plus interest against the quoted purchase price of £150,000 less their deposit. The Alpha Bank issued them with a writ.
By the time the Alpha Bank’s case against them received its second hearing in London in September 2014, Mr TC and his brother-in-law had appointed Cubism Law to represent them. Their case was led by Duncan McNair, who they understood to be an expert in this field. They paid the firm £2,000 up front to represent them. A barrister attended court but they were simply told that a European Enforcement Order had been ratified and that a charge had been placed on their properties in the UK.
They then had to defend the European Enforcement Order in Cyprus, appointing a law firm recommended to them by Cubism Law, which they paid. The Enforcement Order was overturned with reservation when the case in Cyprus was eventually heard in February this year.
However, despite informing Cubism Law on 28th October 2014 and again on 10th November 2014 not to incur any further costs, these specific requests were ignored and the costs continued to mount.
Mr TC feels incredibly let down by the representation he received and believes that a lot of the costs incurred were avoidable and totally unnecessary. He has complained through the firm’s complaints procedures and received what he and his brother-in-law consider to be a derisory offer of redress and they have referred the matter to the Law Society and the Ombudsman, as has Andrew Gwynne MP.
The following 20 minute video is a recording of the Parliamentary debate at Westminster Hall.