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Bank of Cyprus derisory Swiss Franc loan offer

The Bank of Cyprus is proposing revised settlements to borrowers alleging the mis-selling of Swiss Franc loans, but these are derisory compared to settlements negotiated with other Cypriot banks.

Bank of Cyprus headquarters in NicosiaWE HAVE been informed that Hill & Blythe Associates are aware that the Bank of Cyprus (BoC) is contacting its Swiss Franc borrowers setting out their latest settlement proposal relating to the mis-selling of Swiss Franc loans.

The proposal contains a number of options, in particular:

Option 1; a discount of 10% off the current loan balance if the loan is converted to Euro or Sterling. Additionally one payment can be withheld each year and will be made by the bank provided that all other payments are up to date. This option also provides for the interest margin to be reduced to the level in the original loan agreement.

Option 2; a discount of 20% off the current balance if full and final settlement of the outstanding loan takes place from borrower’s own funds.

This proposal represents an increase in their original offer that offered a mere 5% discount for restructuring Swiss Franc loans to either Euro or Sterling, or 10% for full settlement.

It appears that BoC offer is supported by the Central Bank of Cyprus but was rejected by the Parliamentary Committee for Finance on 8 December 2015 on the grounds that it was insufficient.

The BoC settlement proposal is substantially less than that achieved by Hill & Blythe Associates with other Cyprus banks they were not therefore impressed by this latest offer. The offer has recently been considered by Hill & Blythe Associates’ clients and was rejected overwhelmingly.

Negotiations are continuing with a view to significantly improving the current offer and hopefully reach an overall agreement with BoC but Hill & Blythe Associates are not ruling out the need to advance legal proceedings. Fortunately, the recent introduction of the New Limitations Act has kept the door open for commencing legal action against the bank.

If you wish to receive more information in respect of Hill & Blythe Associates, the actions they are taking in relation to their clients who are Swiss Franc borrowers with BoC or Laiki Bank, please contact them by completing the form below.

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Readers' comments

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  • Andante says:

    We were offered nearly 40% about 2.5 years ago via the Swiss Franc Campaign group that morphed into Hill & Blyth.

    This was still way more than we borrowed in the first place. But it was always a non-starter for us as we cannot re-negotiate our loan. In the 9 years since we bought our property I have reached the grand old age of 70 and the bank (understandably) won’t give a loan to someone over 70 (even if I had the means and the will to pay).

    Restructuring the loan was never an option although the AB are still trying whenever they see us (not often as we keep a low profile these days) saying we can put the loan in our children’s names and have a 40 year term. This is apparently common practice amongst Cypriot families.

    As it turned out the Swiss Franc Campaign group were never interested in the rights and wrongs of the Loan/AB/lawyer. I wouldn’t say we wasted our money as it didn’t cost that much being part of a group and served to give us hope that one days things would be sorted out. It kept us going when back in 2011/12 there were seemingly no other options and at that point no head of steam. However unfortunately we were told we could be given no further help from them and have had to find an alternative way.

    This forum (thank you Nigel) has helped people share ideas and solutions in a way the AB couldn’t have imagined back in 2006.

  • Phill says:

    I am totally with John R. I used Hill and Blyth who kept me in the loop and did a great job for very sensible fees. They negotiated a much higher discount from the Alpha Band than those claimed below.

    I also wanted to keep my villa. As such getting Alpha to lose the currency movement, and then give me extra off for settling was totally at the top of my aspirations in settling with the Bank.

    I accept the BoC, and their predecessors Laiki, are a different proposition. They are unprofessional, uncommunicative and incredibly arrogant.

  • Idrish Bhaloda says:

    Hi

    I must say I have to agree with Davra & Andante regarding Hill & Blythe. We ended up paying them over a thousand pounds and achieved very little or nothing.

    They managed to obtain the same discount that we had already negotiated with Alpha Bank directly which was around 23% of the present loan balance. H&B were throwing about figures of 40-50% write off, maybe even more. But what annoyed me was that I had provided them with the information of loan size, date of completion, etc, etc and what we had been offered through direct negotiation with Alpha Bank and asked them to provide an honest opinion of whether they would be able to achieve a significantly higher discount. Obviously, they must have thought they could, and I can’t imagine they would say they could just to sign us up, and so we instructed them.

    Couldn’t agree more with Davra in that they were unsympathetic and hardly ever had any time to answer any questions or provide any kind of advice or help. It seems like they were just working on volumes to sign up as many clients as they could, but did not have, or be bothered to appoint the expertise required to deal with slightly complex cases.

    It was a waste of money as they came back to us with the same offer Alpha bank had offered directly. When we explained that we had asked them to clarify this before we instructed them, they said there was no way of knowing we would be offered the same discount, which I find patronising because when they were asked how they calculated the discount they stated there was a complex formula used and basic details are input to calculate losses incurred by us. We believe they could easily have put all the details in their magic formula spreadsheet and told us within minutes if we could realistically achieve a higher discount which was worth settling for.

    In the end it cost us a lot of money for no gain whatsoever. In fact, the discount via H&B would have been less if you factor in their fees.
    Thanks

  • John R says:

    In my case Hill and Blyth did an excellent job and negotiated a much higher discount from the Alpha Band than those claimed by Andante and Davra.

    I went with them because I wanted to keep my villa. I did contact a number of legal firms but as in Steve R case they wanted a small fortune up front. They also said they couldnt guarantee that I’d win a case against the bank and even if I did I would loose my villa.

    I thought H&Bs fees were very reasonable at around 10% of what Steve R paid.

  • Steve R says:

    I feel so sorry for the whole mess that nearly everybody has been left in regarding Cyprus banks, the whole lot of them. I was very tempted at first to join one of these groups who were offering to take on the banks regarding mis-selling. When you looked into this they wanted an upfront (joining fee). This in a lot of cases was in excess of £10K. They of course offered no sort of guarantee and all stated they would have to use a Cypriot solicitor. These were the same people who helped to get you into the position you are in now.

    I am now looking into negotiating a settlement figure to clear off the debt. The banks are desperate to get these mortgages off their books and they have already made a killing so far. To raise the funds I am looking at an equity release deal against the property I have in the UK. You are allowed to stay in your UK property and you are not burdened with monthly repayments. The money is repaid (plus fees) when you either die or if you sell the property. It just means that the kids don’t get as much inheritance money. What a shame. In a nutshell you get to keep both properties. I’m sure the fees for the equity release will be less than the crippling interest on the Cyprus loan. I will keep you informed of the outcome of the figures

  • Garry says:

    Sadly I never read any comments, successful or otherwise, about National Bank of Greece (Cyprus) in any of these reports about CHF housing loans. I cannot get them to even enter into discussions and so this week I sent an email to the banks own Ombudsman in Greece to see if I can open negotiations. I won`t be holding my breath!

  • Andante says:

    I agree with Davra re Hill & Blythe. OK if you have a straightforward case and can’t negotiate for yourself but not with anything more complex. You can get just as ‘good’ a deal yourself which personally I think is derisory.

  • Davra says:

    Hill and Blythe just present these cases in groups and do not argue specifics of individual cases or mis-selling. They have been offered discounts of 20-30 percent, the higher being in cases of full settlement, no better than banks such as Alpha have offered people directly. Totally unsympathetic and unhelpful when asked to argue specifics in my experience.

  • Andante says:

    I agree with Janice, Steve and Pils. Totally unjust.

    We put £30k deposit into our apartment and paid £35k in interest before we stopped monthly payments. We should never have had the loan in first place – it was a done deal between the bank and our lawyer (no one in their right mind would have agreed the loan had they seen the conditions. Even if they were unaware of the risks of a foreign currency loan, they would have known that the ‘flexi’ escalating payments over 13 years for people on limited incomes and heading for retirement was totally inappropriate and unaffordable).

    Notwithstanding our circumstances, the bank never followed their own due diligence procedures the loan was applied for and granted without our knowledge. The result is if we sell the property (or give it back to the bank which as we know they are not keen on) we have lost our property AND £75K, the bank ‘wins’ as they have had our 35k and have either the equity or the property which they can sell.

    How is this fair when the whole thing is illegal anyway? We are going through the courts which is also costing us money, just to get this mess sorted out as it is impossible to do it yourselves with the Alpha Bank.

    Am I right in thinking the Hill/Blythe service is just to renegotiate the loan or is taking the case for mis-selling forward?

    (Editor’s comment: Hill & Blythe Associates and working on behalf of those wishing to renegotiate their Swiss Franc Loans and keep their properties. You can read more about what them at Swiss Franc loans breakthrough.)

  • Steve R says:

    I got a similar offer from Alpha Bank. They offered around 30% discount if I paid the loan off in full by finding another company to mortgage it.

    Nobody would touch it with a barge pole if you wanted to use the property as security even with a 40% deposit. LTV in my case was -65%. The generous offer from Alpha Bank was worthless.

    Does anybody know of somebody that has been given a mortgage by one of the Cyprus Banks in the last 12 months. Are they still offering mortgages ???. It would be interesting to see the contract

  • Janice says:

    It would appear that BOC have shown their incompetence again, and a complete lack of understanding of the situation.

    I borrowed ~100000 euros in 2008, it was interest free for 2 years making 110,000 euros.

    Then this became 165000 euros with the CHF appreciation. (1.65 vs 1.10 now) and they doubled their margin. Being unaffordable they quickly started to charge 14% for non-payment. If you add 14% until now, that amounts to over 300,000 euros, whereas the property is hardly worth 50,000 euros. (Mostly as a result of banking practice).

    So taking the bank’s incredibly generous 20% off, leaves 240,000 euros – almost 500% LTV.

    What a complete nonsense! How have these bankers still got jobs? No wonder the bank nearly bankrupted the country!

  • pils says:

    What a derisory offer by bank of Scrooge, how can people except this miserable offer.

    My way forward is court proceeding to show up, what Cyprus banks are all about. and how people have been mislead.

    To date people have paid out mega money and still owe 3 x the value at current market valuations, a shame on you banks.

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