Never use the lawyers suggested by an agent or promoter. This account is nowhere near its end. If it has not yet dawned on you that the ways of a corrupt lawyer will put you into a position that is detrimental to your financial health, then there is no point in reading on. Far too easily you will be caught in a vice-like grip that will be very difficult to shake loose if the following chapter is not heeded.
It has already been established that MRI presented their in-house lawyers Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero as independent when they were anything but. The client was therefore denied proper clear and unbiased advice. Taking on board a well-established law firm that did not operate in a detached and independent manner provided MRI with a very considerable practical advantage. This setup was quite deliberate, allowing MRI to get away unchallenged with overpricing properties and pushing properties with the highest commissions. The lawyers willingly entered into this corrupt partnership because they never revealed to the client the extent of those commissions, or that property prices were subject to an increase of at least 10%. It also allowed clients to sign contracts that contained clauses detrimental to themselves in one form or another. It is impossible to believe that these lawyers were ignorant of these very essential details. If they were, then MRI would have been promoting lawyers who were incompetent. MRI could not have scammed so many without the cooperation of their lawyers: they could not have done it. This unmistakably indicates that Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero were a very necessary and indispensable part of the MRI setup. Contracts were not sufficiently clearly worded or failed to protect the client in the case of default by the developer. In some cases unfair, non-completion clauses were inserted; at other times there was a complete absence of such clauses. Altogether, there was a failure to protect the client adequately from loss of the excessive amounts of their deposits. Where MRI was both the developer and the promoter, contracts were passed on to clients by the lawyers that had no non-completion clauses to protect the client. No clauses that outlined the client’s rights if the developer defaulted, nor clauses defining what fair proportion of the deposit should be returned if the client was unable to complete. Clearly, the lawyers could not possibly provide the service a client was entitled to while under the thumb of MRI. Spanish and European laws are very clear about how a lawyer should operate: Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero violated those laws.
A little about contract - be warned!
I received a telephone call from an MRI client who had taken my number from a web site that was active for several years. (This gave an account of my experiences with MRI: it has now been taken down and this book is replacing it.) The client bought a property in one of the eastern European countries. During the conversation I asked about the non-completion clauses, as I was a little mystified to why he was so concerned about the return of his deposit from a property that had never been completed as a build. These would have outlined his legal position for the return of his deposits. To my surprise, there were no non-completion clauses – none to protect him if the developer defaulted, none in the case where the client could not complete, no clauses outlining the return of the client's deposits. It is clear how MRI used their partners in crime, the lawyers! It was not stated which law firm was involved: the point is that MRI again conspired to deny proper legal protection to the client. (It will be shown later that these contracts were indeed dished out by (Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero). The aim was clear: to deny the client proper legal protection if builds were not completed: MRI could make a case for the lack of need to return deposits, which they did.
The unethical business model of MRI.
If you think about this, it is a little perverse. A company receives your money in exchange for goods or services, then argues that it has no need to provide that which you have paid for. That’s the MRI way of thinking. If this is not theft then what is? How about saying, “We intended to supply you with the goods or service but were unable to do so. That was not our fault. We are not going to return your money without a legal battle and only then if it appears we are going to lose. If we can corrupt a judge or official along the way to hinder the return of your money, we would prefer to do that to make sure you understand that you have been ripped off.” MRI operated under a certain amount of arrogance towards its customers. One can go to town with self-indulgent introspection. Here is clear insight that MRI at its root had a criminal mentality: it never intended to give anything back once it had received your cash. That applied not only to property builds but also to furniture packs that were purchased as a package with a property through MRI. The legal battle in progress in Spain through 2012 and now into 2013 has in January taken a strange twist and one not favourable to the MRI clients that have been cheated. Such things clearly show that MRI never intended to give anything back without a legal fight, even if it did not provide the goods after they had been paid for. If Mr. MacAnthony does happen to return their cash without any further court action, it supports the perception that MRI will only return monies when criminal prosecution and jail sentences are hanging over its head. I am not even going to mention the illegal Bait-and-switch scam, which several of MRI clients claimed they were subjected to.
Reflecting on Mr. MacAnthonys character.
I believe that Mr. MacAnthony is incapable of telling the truth. It is beyond his ability. I wonder if he has had to train himself to be a professional liar, or if it is something inherent. He does not appear to be very bright: either he is covering something up or he is simply plain stupid. It could be the product of sheer greed that has become so ingrained in his nature that he cannot let go of one single penny or Euro. Wealth can do this. The love of money corrupts the heart to an unimaginable level. Why stupid? His wealth is estimated at over 70 million. If he simply paid back the 2-4 million for undelivered furniture packs, along with a few other clearly misguided investments that his staff coerced trusting clients into, he would end up on the moral high ground. This is hardly much of a dent in his overall wealth and nearly all the legal action would cease. Easy to brush aside with the explanation that during the property market collapse such things began to happen. Not only would nearly all the legal action go away, but it would place him, as I have already mentioned, in a morally superior position that he could exploit to his heart’s content. Instead, he chooses lies and legal battles that could end up in disgrace and imprisonment – where, I might add, he and his directors should be. The question again, why? Afraid of the flood gates opening up, maybe. Many cases would not stand much of a chance over a little overcharging or falsified rental incomes. Many are too unaware that they have been ripped off to understand that they even have a case. So is it the simple greed from the corruption of wealth, or is there something more interesting or darker being covered up? I do not know the answer, but from where I stand Mr. MacAnthony is just plain foolish. This book would never have been written. How idiotic is that to allow this book, smiting his character in public when that could have easily been avoided?
The Martinez lawyer exposes where his loyalties lie.
Over the previous chapters, the effect of the lack of involvement of the lawyers in the overall purchase of the four properties which MRI projected as investments, has become evident. It is obvious they should have been at hand all through the process, offering advice at every stage of the property investment plan. At most a lawyer was present for about ten minutes with no reference to the investment plan other than, “MRI are very professional and know what they are doing.” More effort was put into bolstering the image of MRI than into any concern about managing my money. The investment plan changed through several different formats during a day, starting as a five-year, two-property plan. Finally it evolved into a two-year, four-properties-with-roll-over-options plan. Between those two extremes, after a consideration of possibly dropping one of those properties it morphed into a three-property, undefined-time-span plan. Although I have used the word evolved, note that this is of course, not a reference to my situation. This was far from any evolved property investment scenario, only decline in my financial wealth. However, it is an evolution in terms of the profit MRI and the Leech were just about to obtain: two property commissions increased to four property commissions.
Would you not think that a lawyer concerned about my position and financial welfare, should have been involved at every stage of those changes? Is that not what they are being paid for? Before any contracts were signed and deposits paid, the lawyer should have been presented with the whole investment plan laid out on the table. Through this proccess he should have offered advice to the client before any commitment was made, even paying the retainers. It is obvious that this was just a rush job. As I have already shown, I only saw a lawyer for about 5-10 minutes and there was no discussion about or assessment of the investment plan. Think back to the third chapter where the following account occurs.
The first sight of the lawyer was a couple of minutes before he came over to the table and sat down. Of course, I did not know at that point he was a Martinez-Echevarria Perez y Ferrero lawyer who was going to act for me, and only on one of the properties. I remember, while crunching boiled sweets and spying over the magazine, tables, chairs, computer screens and Mediterranean plants, noticing that this particular individual was in deep conversation with someone else on the other side of all the office clutter. I remember not losing sight of him as from that position he made his way directly to me, the boiled sweet exterminator. Chopping and munching without mercy, leaving only the clear wrappers to be screwed into tight little balls, I then flicked them back into the bowl over the glossy magazine from my laid-back position sunk well into the sofa. What do you make of that? No, not the boiled sweet exterminator, the lawyer deep in conversation on the other side of the office. Well primed, updated so as not to lose a cent of the 100,000 Euros, script well-rehearsed, there was no way this Tyrannosaurus rex type predator was not going to chew me up for dinner and spit out my flesh-stripped bones.
There was most likely a discussion and assessment, but it was not with me. The lawyer must have understood the profit to be made and was given the “talk.” What’s the “talk”? I have no idea, other than it was to take a strategic approach to keep the customer in an unsuspecting position, to ensure those four deposits were paid as 100,000 Euros were at stake – or is that steak? Probably steak, top quality beef steak and champagne: they could have afforded a slap-up office meal with much extravagance after successfully drawing in the “mark.” The fact is clear; MRI could not have operated the sales of overpriced properties and gained excessive commission without the collusion of Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero. An independent lawyer would have seen through this entire scan in an instant and would have acted appropriately in the interest of the client, instead of those of MRI.
Not just one but four.
I purchased four properties, two from separate sites and two from the same complex but different from the other two. When the contracts arrived, they came from three separate Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero lawyers instead of just the one I had seen for a few minutes in the office. When I inquired about this, it transpired that each lawyer is designated to deal with certain complexes. I purchased from three different complexes so that required three individual lawyers. This was never explained while I was in Spain. Like most people, I believed I would get one lawyer to deal with all. In effect this meant I was charged four, full, lawyer fees denying me any possibility of negotiating a discount for dealing with four properties. Even though one lawyer was dealing with two properties from one complex, there was no offer of any fee reduction. If I had sorted out a truly independent lawyer, that total cost without any doubt would have been negotiable.
The crucial point here is that it was impossible for any one of these lawyers by any stretch of the imagination, to be able to offer me proper advice on property investments, as each would not have had the full picture. The way they operated disconnected the lawyers from the reality of the situation. The commissions and kickbacks created a motivation which resulted in consideration of self-interest only. I became a victim of this and was denied my entitlement to independent legal advice to protect my own interests. This cannot in any way be described as a professional setup. I do not have to explain again MRI's motivation and the real reason for this: it is nothing more than a scam.
Much later I drove up to the Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero office in Calpe, about 140 kilometres north and two and a half hours drive away, to pay a surprise visit. The intention was to see if I could get a better glimpse of the office setup, and to deal with several issues of getting my money back from two of the properties, and to apply some pressure. Not only was it very difficult to find from the address – in fact impossible – I could only get to the vicinity of the building. To pinpoint it I had to phone: someone came out onto a balcony and waved to indicate exactly where they were. Otherwise I would never have found the office: there was nothing outside the building to say they were in there. Why so hard to find? You make your own assessment. It does make me wonder if they simply divided up the work to gain personal payments equalled out amongst them – there was absolutely no reason why one lawyer could not have dealt with it all. By now, all of the three lawyers who had been dealing with my properties had left – odd, do you not think.
We were now seven months further on, in September-October 2007. The second of the three had already left some time back – under mysterious circumstances, I might add. I received half the story from the MRI office staff. One lawyer was now acting for me on all four properties, no less. One lawyer for all four, did you say? Well, bless me, maybe I should ask for a reimbursement. It seemed that this law firm were having problems retaining their staff, as this new one seemed to be the only one left and a trainee had just started. A little over stretched – I already had the office setup from the MRI staff, so I was armed with a little intelligence before arriving.
Where do I go from here with this story?
Where do I go from here, which story first? Alternatively, how do I put this into some clear order for you to make sense of all the timings? I am going to have to go back in time and work up to this moment. Maybe if I address the question: “Why had I decided to make this trip up the coast to the Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero office when there was one of their lawyers sitting around in the MRI office right on my door step?” It then might make sense.
The story starts just after my arrival in Spain – filling in the gaps.
It was not long after my arrival in Spain and after the Leech had been sacked. Yes, sacked – ironically, they had just been going to promote him to a manager’s position. Several days after informing him of this, they sacked him when a customer complained that he had made a racial joke and that his attitude was too pushy. So here was one element of the investment plan up the spout. This is why it was such a farcical plan. If you remember, the Leech was one of the anchor points: he would be there to help smooth out any problems, and now not there. In fact, all the elements in the investment plan were as unstable as a four-legged high chair with only three legs, a chair with a long way to fall to hit the ground, that would be unsuitable for the purpose of its design.
The same goes for the fictitious cleaning business which had now been removed as a misunderstanding on my part. The Leech claimed he had indicated that I could clean the MRI properties they rented out instead. There was not much I can do when confronted with a blatant barefaced lie. I thought it best to avoid any confrontation. I really should have put some effort in recorded his calls from Spain. Later a lawyer claimed they would not have been much use in a court anyway, but I am not so sure about that. Even if the cleaning business had been for real, this element would have to be organised with the MRI office staff who managed that department. There was a staff change shortly after so it was now in the hands of another. This element, therefore, in any shape or form would have been totally unstable because it was susceptible to constant staff changes. The idea was that the investment plan could generate 200 Euros a week through MRI renting my property to investors coming in for a week or more. More detail on this later. The plan was truly 110% farcical and disastrous without any doubt; my ignorance was exploited to the hilt by everyone. There are no innocents: MRI, Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero, Capital Finance, the sales and office staff were all a part of the set-up, even if it was only their silence that counted.
The salvage operation and more.
So with all the elements falling to pieces and the realisation that all was not right, I had to start looking at ways to salvage as much as possible. A little fortune was on my side: the second property from contractor number 2 – the one I was intended to rent to cover a colossal 12,000 Euros a year in mortgages – was looking as though it was not going to be ready on time and the contractor could be defaulting on the completion date. There was a two-month extension on the final date in favour of the contractor written into the contract. Sometime before this date was reached, I walked into the MRI office and enquired about the six-month extension the contractor had agreed upon. Remember, the solution to the issue of not been able to start two mortgages close together. But there was nothing entered on MRI's files, no signed agreement, to prove any agreement had taken place. It was something I could have really done with at that point, but on the other hand, as this worked itself out I am glad that there was not. With any change of a signed, contractual agreement, if it is not documented and signed then there is no legal agreement to be enforced. Having found this out, the lawyer in the office offered to write to the contractor to find if such an agreement had been made. The response from the contractor was that no such agreement had ever taken place. It now appears that the Leech had simply lied to get the deposits paid before I arrived in Spain. Below is that return e-mail from the Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero. Note the date.
May 18th 2007 10:23
Following our meeting at MRI´s Office, I am afraid that apparently [the second contractor] was not aware of your intention to sign the title deeds six months later in time. Please kindly note that unfortunately they are not in a position to postpone the signing date for that long, so what would then be advisable is to start moving to sell one of the contractor 3 units before completion.
Pablo (surname removed)
Martínez-Echevarría, Pérez & Ferrero Abogados
Calle Purísima 23, 4º S
03710 Calpe (Alicante) España/Spain
It appears that the lawyer in this e-mail has made it look as though this was my idea to delay completion by six months, when he should have made referred to it the Leech's arrangement. It again shows that Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero are not independent but are trying to cover up MRI's mistakes. I had no communication with the contractors over this matter at any time: this was totally the work of the Leech and the contractor's sales staff. Note also the reference to rolling over one of the contractor 3 properties even though there was still two years to go before completion. Yet when I went into the office to start this process, I was informed that MRI did not do re-sales. Does this have any resemblance to anything professional? It is a cobbled mishmash of complete **** by a bunch of incompetent imbeciles. Where was the lawyer who right from the beginning should have been over shadowing the development plan to stop this sort of amateurishness? We have outlined the reason already: the main object was the 25,000 in commission on this one property alone.
I did not support this agreement as it was made without my authority. When I was informed that the agreement was in place I wanted to withdraw. On several occasions before the deposit was paid, I phoned the Leech and expressed my concern that his investment plan might not work now. I was pressured into paying the deposit as there were other considerations to take into account such as his false offer to set me up with the business opportunity. I have already given an account of this. This was extortion.
Reclaiming the deposit.
Much later, as the completion date on property 2 approached, I took the opportunity to get the lawyer to explain how the process of reclaiming my deposit operated if the contractor defaulted on the completion date. It was explained in detail; now all I could do is wait and hope. This is not the end because things are going to turn out to be quite revealing.
We were now two and half weeks away from the end of the two-month extension date in the contract – August 1st 2007 – and even though the property appeared to be built it was not ready to be lived in. The lawyer, whom I shall call Pablo, was instructed to start the legal process to claim back the deposit. This instruction was given on July 10th by e-mail to which I received a positive reply. There were further discussions with Pablo in the MRI office after he had asked me to send him this e-mail to start the process. I was now quite relieved that this was going in my favour. I really was scammed into buying this property, but all was not going to run smoothly. I was informed it would take several months to get my money back after the process had started. The contractor would most likely drag his feet for as long as possible, and we might have to threaten to take him to court. There was at no time any mention of extra payment to Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero. I had already assumed that their initial fee was all-inclusive, as it was never explained that it was not. The content of my e-mail follows: I gave plenty of time for the preparation of the process to start.
Date: 10 July 2007 12:47
Your reference: Warburton-2576/.
Reference to the conversation with yourself Saturday June 30th concerning property purchase at Con2.
After careful consideration I have now decided to request the return of the deposit of some 41,000 euros on this property once the 2 months over the contract completion date has arrived or as soon as possible.
The completion date in the contract is for the end of May 2007 with 2 months in the favour of the contractor which is the end of July.
This property was purchased particularly for the rental market to help cover the mortgage payment on two properties and was expected to be ready for use during the high season 2007. As the building work is now projected 5-6 months behind and then another 6 months waiting for licenses through the Spanish system, I will not receive this property until sometime in May/June or later in 2008.
This now makes the purchase of this property unsuitable for the purpose for which it is was bought, and as the contract will not be fulfilled on time I wish to request back the deposit plus taxes as soon as possible. The returned money will go into the purchase on the first property Con1 reducing the mortgage repayments which will come into effect sometime in September. The return of the deposit is therefore required before September if possible.
You have explained to me the possible process of the contractor dragging their feet in the return of the deposit, I would of thought the sooner they put the property back on the market the quicker it will re-sell with a more suitable completion date. The property was also purchased complete with the white goods, an offer if purchased during that month. Again, if that offer is not now relevant, the contractors can only gain by its re-sale.
I would also like to consider that if the deposit is not returned in reasonable time that the difference between the interest on the mortgage payments be claimed off the contractors.
Mr. SL Warburton
There is a slight discrepancy in the above. I have stated in the e-mail that the building work could be 5-6 months behind yet earlier I had stated it appeared finished. This was because on one visit to the site, personnel at the office had stated that the work was several months behind schedule. On a later visit, the site had been cleaned up quite a lot and appeared finished, although actually it was not.
Another point that was not explained to me while on the inspection trip, the habitation licenses issued by the local authorities were taking up to six months to arrive. This delay was apparently caused by the system being overloaded. I did not find this piece of information out until several weeks after arriving back in Spain. It was a well-known fact with all realtors; if this was the case, then property 2 (the rental property) could not have achieved its purpose in the investment plan to be ready for the high season of 2007. Farcical, absolutely, but it clearly demonstrates again the only motivation here is the 25,000 Euros commission for MRI. Remember commission payments are made within a couple of months of the contractor receiving the deposit. On this property the deposit was paid near the end of March, MRI would receive its commission before the end of May even possibly in April sometime. The property is not due to complete until the end of May, and with the two-month extension in the contract, that brings us to the end of July. The Leech must have obviously understood that this property would not perform as he had predicted. He could clearly see that it did not really matter, as the commission would have been paid well before his misguided advice could be detected. How did MRI explain away this ill-advised investment?
I visited the MRI office again among many visits during this time in July, on occasion I expounding on my properties and how it all was not working out. The response was that I had been unlucky. I am struggling with this sentence as I am not to sure how to construct it. You can construct in your head, create the response to “I have just been unlucky,” maybe start with COBBLERS!
Delay in reclaiming the deposit.
After a month, and receiving no word from Pablo, I went back into the MRI office only to find out that Pablo, who I thought was dealing with this was no longer there and had been somewhat sacked. I say sort of sacked, because after I had enquired about more detail around his departure, the story got a bit obscure and vague. A disagreement had taken place between Pablo and MRI, and it was not clear if he had left or was sacked. As this unfolds things get a little clearer, but complete clarity cannot be obtained around Pablo, but it does make for some interesting speculation. I will go into this later. So if this lawyer is currently not here, what has happened to my claim to return my deposit? Why did someone not inform me that another lawyer was now dealing with it?
There was apparently a reclaims department that dealt with defaulted contracts, so I had to contact them at head office in Marbella. No person in the MRI office had a clue who was now my acting lawyer, that is why I was directed to contact head office. It meant phone calls to Marbella, tracking down the right department, and locating a person who could deal with this. I was promised a return phone call after locating such a person. Several days later I did get one: my file had been found in Marbella and was being sent back to the Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero office in Calpe, 140 kilometres north, a drive of two and half hours. I was also given the name of the lawyer who would now be dealing with it. I think I will call this lawyer Mel 4, not very personal but who wants to be personal? This could get hard to follow so your 100% concentration is required! An independent lawyer was going to be taken on board soon, and things were going to get interesting. There was at one point, one Martinez lawyer dealing with the first contractor and my first property; a second Martinez lawyer dealing with the second contractor and the second property; a third Martinez lawyer dealing with the third contractor and the third and fourth properties – the three, original lawyers dealing with the four properties. Interesting to note that at this point in time, none of these three lawyers were now dealing with any of my contracts relating to any of the properties which I had purchased. I knew there was no longer a Pablo, but very soon I am going to discovered there was no longer a second or third either. Or is that a first and second; or maybe it was a first and third. Anyway, they all have been amalgamated into what I am going to reference as, Mel 4.
Taking stock so far.
If we take stock of things so far, the second lawyer (Pablo) was no longer with us, and my file had been sent to Marbella, either before or after his leaving, to be dealt with. As it was now being sent back to Mel 4 in Calpe, that meant it was not being dealt with in Marbella but was just lying around in a pile or in a drawer somewhere. So why was it sent to Marbella in the first place? If I had not started enquiring about the situation, how much longer would it have not been dealt with? Remember MRI was going to have to return 25,000 Euros (OOOh! Scary for MRI) and at this point I did not yet know MRI’s commission was this much. To speculate and enter into MRI's way of thinking, I can imagine someone having a fit at having to return money: as MRI does not like giving anything back. Once it gets its greedy paws on the lovely stuff it cannot let go unless it is ripped out of its grasp.
Over the next few days, I did not appear to be getting very far with the return of my money, nor was I receiving any updates, other than a confirmation that Mel 4 was now my lawyer and was dealing with the case. Mel 4 had also requested the return of my deposit from the contractor, yet there were no updates on how things were proceeding. I still have a copy of that e-mail from Mel 4, which follows. I want you to remember the line in italics above: it will prove very interesting a little later on. Remember, the first mail you read is the response to the initial mail which comes second. You are reading the response first.
Many thanks for your communication; I would like to confirm that I wish to pull out of the CON2 property. I consulted with Pablo within the last few days of July about the request for the return of my deposit for this property as it was out of contract and now not suitable for the purpose for which it was purchased.
He was instructed to start the process for the return of that deposit of which he would do as from the 1st August 2007.
To: Stephen .
Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2007 10:57 AM .
I write further to the above matter, and to your e-mail of the 18.09.07
I note the contents of your said e-mail, for which I thank you, and I hereby confirm I will be dealing on your behalf also in this matter.
Please note I have just spoken to the developers who have informed me that these properties are now ready.
Considering the contract of purchase states Completion, approximately for the end of May 07, including a delay of two months, this would leave us at the end of July 07, moment in which the property was not finished.
Considering it is now ready and they are in any case going to send me the necessary documents which prove this, I wanted to inform you accordingly, if your instructions are to pull out in any case I shall send an urgent fax this afternoon proceeding accordingly.
Note again the contractor was claiming that the property was now ready when it was not: and we were now in the middle of September 2007. These contractors never stopped lying.
Recapping a little before continuing.
I had by now made the decision to pull out of the first property after receiving the bank mortgage assessment. I had realised the loss potential and had instructed Mel 4 to request the return of the deposit from the contractor. (The original lawyer dealing with the property was now not here). This should not have been a problem as the contract was clearly constructed and the penalty for non-completion well outlined. I would receive back 37,000 from 62,000: I have already worked through why this was the best decision to make in the last chapter. By October, I was getting a bit frustrated with the lack of movement and made the decision to drive north to the Calpe office of Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero in the hope of getting some answers and applying some pressure. There we have it – a two-fold reason for making my way to Calpe and struggling to locate the office. I had to phone for some satellite navigation assistance in the form of a wave from a very high balcony.
Once I had located that wave from above, I took the lift and found myself sitting inside a room with little furniture other than a practical table and a few chairs. As for applying any pressure, this was not a very constructive meeting, but it did reveal with striking clarity that I needed to get rid of these lawyers. An independent lawyer to whom I had previously taken the contract had found a minor fault: I wondered if it would be enough to invalidate the contract and enable me to claim back the full 62,000. It also transpired that the Spanish and English version of that contract were different in an important area: the Spanish would be the overriding legal version to be used in any court case. I am not sure if the advice I was given was totally correct as later I received further advice, which was more positive. Even so, it was not enough to enable the return of any of the deposit.
The main thrust of the discussion went something like this. Where was my money and when could I expect to get it returned from both contractors? The response from wimpy Mel 4 was completely wet and sloppy: they could not give me my money back until the contractors had given it to them. That was it. No question of applying any real pressure, or any time limit before taking legal action. I had to start pushing and finally got Mel 4 to draft another letter to requesting full or part repayment of my deposits. Mel 4 claimed they had a good working relation with the contractor of property one. They would be seeing the company lawyer in a few days and would bring up the issue of the return of my 37,000. Why in a few days? Why not get on the phone there and then if the working relationship was so good? Another letter which would hang around the office again for another month? Get some aggression going: phone and start to apply pressure with legal threats. It was now over two months beyond the contracted date on the rental property, and four months since I decided to pull out of the first property. I should have had my money back by now.
Dealing directly with a contractor - no need for a promoter.
A quick point to mention before I move on. Contractor 1 appears to be the only contractor who had an in-house company lawyer, she had her own office within the contractor’s small building. The entrance lobby also doubled as a show room displaying their selection of property builds. Again, property investors do not need promoters such as MRI. Go direct to the contractors and you will find, as I have pointed out before, promoters simple steal your capital growth through the excessively high hidden commissions. In the case of MRI, 25,000 Euros just to show me these contractors properties when I could have done it myself and haggled down the expense. Of course they had a website. Search, search and search and save a bundle. The other two contractors appeared to have no lawyer directly attached to then, but relied on external legal support as you will begin to realise as we work through all the scenarios. The difference being, I went directly to contractor 1 and dealt with the manager first and then with their lawyer in person, got my 37,000 Euros returned and eventually missed out Mel 4 altogether.
A crucial third party account.
A short time later I heard an account from some local Brits to whom Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero had not returned a deposit. They had eventual given up. The sum was nowhere near the amount of one of my deposits, but it was still a reasonable amount. They had simply lost heart and walked away. When the opportunity appeared not too far into the future, it seemed prudent to move everything away from Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero. Even if the deposits were returned to them, how much I would actual get back remained another concern. This made a lot of sense why the Martinez lawyers never appeared to act as a lawyer should act: inertia was in their interest.
The MRI, Martinez working relationship trap.
One reason why these lawyers will not do very much apart from dealing with the initial contract signing and why this contract ended up in Marbella is money. One is given to believe the cost of the legal service that comes with the contract is an all-inclusive cost. There is no indication of any further payment if the contractor defaults or more work is required beyond the initial signing. Maybe that is why the correspondence was sent to Marbella: MRI had not reckoned on the return of any money and Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero did not want to deal with it – so pass it back to MRI. The other reason is to buy time so that the money might never be returned. I got the distinct feeling that the more difficult it was made for the client the greater the likelihood they would just give up and go away. I have already told of one client who chose to take this option. Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero made a lot of money from MRI business so maybe they did not want to rock the boat by asking for more. It was a sort of trap that both MRI and Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero get caught up in. I am only speculating here because there has to be a reason why the service was so bad: it boils down to greed and an unprofessional way of working. Cowboys, nothing more than cowboys hiding behind corporate boot polish. When lawyers are required to do more they simply do nothing. The amount they were paid for sending out the contracts for signing, and then passing them on to the contractor with the deposit was extortionate enough, particularly when one considers just how little advice one was given.
This scenario is a long way from being played out and the speculative stab may be well off course, but something far worse was afoot. On the first property, I decided to go direct to the contractor, and I eventually received back 37,000 without any further involvement from Mel 4. I had been considering an independent lawyer for some time and had approached several. None wanted to take on my case, but in each instance I learned a little more about contracts, commission payments and many other points. It had been suggested to me to use a local lawyer who was reported to be very aggressive and fiery and who would get my money back. The only snag was that he did not speak any English, and I would have to work through a translator. I saw this as being very problematic. I was getting tired of running around those so-called excellent lawyers who turned out to be not that good, but running out of immediate options took this course. I did recover most of my money through this avenue by October 2008. We did have our ups and downs, mainly due to the complication of translation. There was the added expense of the translator whom I managed to get at well under the standard rate because of lack of experience in the legal field.
Revealing discoveries uncover the extent of the Martinez corruption.
The first discovery came through the first inexperienced translator I use during the initial meeting with the independent lawyer. He was not the translator I eventually used – really not a translator as such, just an English guy from the estate agent I was renting through who could speak Spanish. Without a professional translator, the information that should have been clear was hardly conveyed, if at all. However, one thing that became very obvious was that the contractor had never heard of Mel 4: they thought they were still dealing with the first lawyer. So who was lying? That line in italics I asked you to remember tells a different story. I did get a very strong feeling that Mel 4 was working with the contractors to stall – but that was only a hunch. The feeling was there and there was not much I could do about it: a conspired, coordinated stall; or each working independently to cover their own backs giving the appearance of a conspiracy? I wonder which. It must be plainly obvious no-one was trustworthy. I have the e-mail that Mel 4 claimed sent to the second contractor and now that contractor was stating that he had never heard of Mel 4.
The next day, after working through the previous night’s meeting with this inexperienced translator, it came to light that the contractors had claimed that they had never received the full 42,000 deposit, only 18,000 – MRI had the rest. I had to go over this several times with this unprofessional idiot to make sure I had the facts correct, because this was not legal and above board. It appeared that the second lawyer from Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero had syphoned off the MRI commission: MRI simply used them to steal 25,000 Euros. It had not reached the contractor who should only then have paid the commission under their contract with MRI. Over the next month, I made several attempts to clarify this fact, even asking the contractor directly at one point. I tried to get my Spanish lawyer to clarify it through another, better qualified translator. I seemed to get sidestepped at every enquiry: either the contractor's spokesperson did not know, or if they did, never came back with the answer to my query. My lawyer, who made the call that evening, avoided giving a forthright answer that made sense.
Why avoid using a translator?
It is difficult pursuing something through a third person such as a translator: my advice is not to consider this as an option as one tends to give in and let things go when it all becomes overly problematic. The disadvantages of using a translator are too numerous to list. Let this be a lesson to anyone who considers this path – do not do it. One does not have control over meetings; one cannot inject information to stimulate a response to answers or queries; one can never be sure how much the translator relays. Did you get all the important and relevant information? Was what you said translated in a way you wanted the receiver to hear it so you could say with certainty they understood your query rightly? Did the translator give you the response correctly? Is the translator giving you everything that you need to know or are they entering into a private conversation?
Do I have a corrupt Martinez lawyer working for MRI?
So here I was with a piece of information that I could not now verify, but which I would have understood clearly if I spoke Spanish or if my lawyer good English. What do we have here? A corrupt lawyer from Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero acting for MRI consenting to an unethical, if not a criminal, practice? The deposit was handed to the second lawyer to pass on to the contractor; the contractor should then pass on the commission to MRI under the terms in the contract between them. In this case, it seems the lawyer syphoned off the commission before handing the money to the contractor. I had not given permission or agreed either in written or verbally for the lawyer to pay any money to any third party. This was a breach of contract and trust between lawyer and client and was being manipulated by MRI with consent of the lawyers – a criminal action in my book. Why would this happen? Why not wait for the contractor to pass on the commission? In this case, it could be that there was no contract made between the promoter and the contractor about paying commissions to the promoter: MRI simply abused their position through the second lawyer. If there was no contract in place, then this is definitely an act of theft. With no legally agreed amount of the commission payment, MRI could take what they want. I had not given any instruction to the lawyer to pay MRI anything. I had not agreed with MRI to pay them anything. Until the contractor receives that money, it is still mine - my money entrusted to the lawyer to dispense with as agreed with the client to give to the contractor. There is nothing the contractor can do, the client is unaware anything unlawful has happened. Another possibility could have been that the promoter was having problems receiving commissions from the contractor. By persuading the client to use an in-house lawyer presented as independent they could control or manipulate such events as defaulted payments. It is illegal and again the client is none the wiser.
So what about the other three deposits? What happened to how they were passed on? I do not think contractors will tell you anything even though I had considered doing some Sherlock Holmes type detective work, pipe and all. To be honest this is stressful and energy draining as it is. I have now been suffering from illness for months as all this slowly began to look bogus. What about those original three lawyers. None are currently still here. I know Pablo left under circumstances that were not altogether clear. Could he have objected to the way he was asked to perform his job and simply quit? Alternatively, had there been a bust up between him and MRI over such practices and they had sacked him? Maybe MRI just sacked him to remove the evidence of unethical or criminal practice. I have often wondered what could be revealed if such people were forced to make statements. The amount of money I was about to lose with no indication of how much could be salvaged took its health toll. I saw my home being destroyed, never to get back onto the property market again; I was not wrong. At this point MRI and its setup looked nothing more than evil, thoroughly evil in its intent, and I am a victim whom they could not care two thoughts about. Only their greedy profiting making scam is what matters.
Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero were not independent, but under the control of MRI, working for them behind the scenes. This could not have happened if I had a truly independent lawyer with my interest at heart. The dangers of taking on lawyers promoted by an agent do not get much clearer than this. Of course the contractor could be lying, trying to fend off the reclamation of the deposit. Legally, it makes no difference because the commission was not my responsibility, and regardless of how much was paid to the promoter by the contractor, I will be able to claim back my deposit in full. It should not make any sense for them to lie, but that does not mean they did not. Over the next few paragraphs, we will see the true corrupt nature of these contractors: they will try anything not to pay back that deposit.
How lawyers should act.
Remember, I did not agree in writing or verbally to pay MRI anything: commissions were totally hidden from the client. My independent lawyer's attitude was tough: the contractor pays up or we take then to court. That's how it should be done, not the wishy-washy Martinez style that is only designed to delay things in the hope you will go away. Some people actually do this: the struggle gets too much for them, they just give up and accept the loss. I came across a few who like this – not quite as much money involved as in my loss, but still enough. Knowing this any dishonest lawyer can apply the tactic of delay for as long as possible just in case you of this type. You really do need a lot of strength and determination if you end up in a situation such as this. Many do: you have to keep bashing away at it regardless of the stress, worry and personal energy drain. There is a lot to guard yourself against if you know beforehand the tricks and tactics. Arming yourself with the ability to see through those lawyers’ tactics that indicate something is not quite right is a must. Silence is one, continual non-response to communications is a sure-fire indication. Not answering queries in a clear, comprehensible manner is another. Remember lawyers know the law: if they are pulling a fast one in any way they will not say anything which can then be used against them, so they tend to say little, nothing, or something unintelligible. I have one of those communications which you will see later. Actually, if you are on the ball this type of mentality can be turned against a lawyer – it just needs a bit of insight and wit to be able to do so.
More problems using a translator.
Next comes something of a surprise that caused a little tension between me and the lawyer who did not speak English. I had to write everything down and get a translator to convert into Spanish and then send by e-mail to the lawyer. At other times, I would take the translated document to the office and deal with it one issue at a time between the three of us. It is complicated and there is no real flow of information: it is a slow and a disjointed process. I had to be selective in what to submit first, building up a whole picture so the lawyer could act appropriately. Not matter how I tried, a problem still occurred. We were well over the two months grace period at this time, and the property was still not ready to be inhabited – my lawyer had requested all the relevant permits that would be needed to show that the property was legally habitable. In a normal situation of no language barrier what could have been done in one meeting; instead it took several. In the car on the way to meet the lawyer for the third time, I worked through with the translator how to present the information concerning the six month agreement between the second contractor and the Leech, an agreement which I had not authorised. I did not pay much importance to relating this earlier, because the contractors, through the second Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero lawyer, had already stated that no such agreement had taken place: from my perspective the Leech had lied. So on reaching the office on this particular occasion I was greeted by a frosty, angry battering from the lawyer. I was fiercely accused of not being honest: how could he represent me? The contractor had faxed a memo to the effect that they did have a six months extension agreement in place. So it now appeared the Leech had not lied but rather that the contractor had lied to the second Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero lawyer: they had now decided to play this card to stick a spanner in the works.
I really had to work hard to calm the lawyer down, and I was very close to walking out of the office. I stuck it out as I did not want to have to start again looking for another lawyer. I asked for some space, listen and not to interrupt until I had finished: I could explain everything. After producing the e-mail of denial and slowly going over a very complicated string of events he did get the picture, and at the next meeting apologised for letting off steam. He had also received an insulting fax from the contractors asking who the h— he thought they were to be threatening them for the return of the deposit. This actually worked in my favour because they rubbed the lawyer up the wrong way. As soon as we had cleared up our misunderstanding, the contractor would be greeted the next morning with a demand for the immediate return of the deposit: otherwise a court date would be applied for. This meant I would also be in line for some compensation on top of the deposit and my extra legal fees: the contract was very clear about contractor default. We were now some four to five months past the completion date so the contractors had nothing to take a stand on. They had not forwarded any of the required habitation certificates, only used threats and delaying tactics, which suggested something was not right with the apartment. Without the certificates in place, my lawyer was adamant that I should not complete. Properties without the correct habitation license are a dodgy bet.
I would like to refer to one quick point that came out of the exchange between the lawyer and myself. Once the air had cleared, I explained that there was a problem with the translation process. It was hard to get all the information across quickly and coherently, particularly in a correct order. I explained that I had to take decisions on what and how to present first, and that this was difficult to do. There was a need for patience and understanding. To my surprise, the lawyer did not feel there was any problem over the translation process. That was good to hear from one point of view but difficult to grasp given the events which had just transpired. It goes to show how there can be different perspectives of the same events by two people.
The contractor instigates unethical communications.
This was not the end to the story as the contractors now decided to pull a fast one. Just to go back to the previous day. After my lawyer had contacted this particular contractor, I received a phone call from the contractor's salesperson who had dealt with the Leech. Needless to say this was highly dubious: once a legal process has begun it is not wise for the parties to talk to each because information detrimental to one or other could be let slip. This was a bit risky for the contractor. They were trying to explore ways to avoid giving me back the deposit and offered to get me a mortgage. I asked about this six months agreement, they did not have much good to say about the Leech, which was now only natural to be expected. It was basically a question of the contractor exploiting whatever was in their interest at the time, and now it was to denigrate the Leech. I did point out that this attempt at communication by them was ill advised, but that did not deter them. When they offered to find me a mortgage I told them that I was no longer interested in the property and explained why. I felt I had been pressured into its purchase and that the rental returns had been overstated. The property was needed for the high season this year to cover the mortgage repayments. As it was way overdue the contract completion date, its purpose was now lost. I had no intention of completing. I thought this was quite clear and would put an end to any further pressure to get me to complete. I happened to let slip about Capital Finance and the overall problems that MRI had caused through the false investment plan: I was not at fault in any way. I must have given the impression that I was struggling to get a mortgage. I did have one in place for the first property which I had now decided to forego so it was no problem changing to this far cheaper property. The return of the 37,000 Euros would have been added to reduce the repayments so there was not much of a problem – I simply no longer wanted the second property. The investment plan was a complete sham, which must be overly obvious to you by now.
Squirming like a fish on a hook, the contractor pulls a fast one.
I relayed this information to my lawyer, who then advised me not to talk to the contractors again. Within a few days I was summoned to the lawyer's office one evening. I wondered what the purpose might be: maybe my deposit had been returned. No such luck, the contractors were now squirming and fighting like a fish on a hook desperately trying to get free. My lawyer received a fax demanding us to be at the notary late in January 2008 to complete on the property. The certificates had not been presented to prove that the property was ready, yet here they were demanding I appear at the notary to sign and complete. I think they pulled this fast one because they believed I might not turn up if I did not have a mortgage. The notary would have given them full possession of the property and I would have lost the deposit. My lawyer again requested all the relevant certificates, but they never arrived. He informed me that we had to go to the notary in January as there was now no choice in the matter.
I had by now received back 37,000 from the first property, so money or a mortgage was not an issue. Sometime later in January 2008, the lawyer, a translator and I turned up at the notary on time. The contractor's representative was half an hour late: it turned out he was the owner of the complex and not just a lawyer. I noticed an intense conversation between my lawyer and this representative which was rather one-sided as my lawyer seemed to say nothing. I got the impression that something was not quite right. I wish I could have eavesdropped on that even though it would be in Spanish. With hind sight, I should have played the secret agent and attached a secret microphone to the lawyer's clothing somewhere. I am sure the content of that exchange would have revealed something of much more interest. We were all summoned into an office with a large table which we all sat around: notary-barrister at the head, I am on one side with my translator, my lawyer and the contractor's representative on the opposite side. When the papers were submitted to the notary and a copy to my lawyer, there was not a single certificate on this property, rendering it impossible if not illegal to complete. The whole delay had been a ruse to try to retain the deposit. As we sat around the table with the notary-barrister, I asked the translator to provide a running commentary. The official was scribing loads of marks on the submitted paperwork and rewriting sentences accompanied by a string of words. In short he had explained he did not understand why we were even here. Crossing out and replacing the text from the loosely worded explanation intended to cover up the property’s lack of readiness because no certificates were presented. This cost me another 150 Euros for three copies of the amended paperwork. (The notarial service is not state run but a privately operated under the aegis of the state: everything had to be paid for.) A week later, I returned to the notary to collect copies of the revised documents that could now be submitted to a court if the deposit was not returned.
Just after we left the scene of the contractor's nemesis, their representative approached me and shook my hand. How I managed not to punch him in the face is a mystery: our hands entwined but something very different was going on in my mind.
All done and dusted (not likely), now the tussle to force the contractor to return the cash begins.
Me: “Give me my money back, or else!”
Contractor: “But we only have 18,000 of the 42,000.”
Me: “Tough, that’s not my problem, I did not agree to pay anything to the promoter – it is your responsibility and yours alone to get it back from them. I want my deposit returned pronto! Otherwise we go to court.”
Contractor: “We will contact the promoter for the return of the 25,000, but in the meantime we can only give you 18,000.”
Me: “That’s not my concern give me all my money back this instant.”
Of course, I have inserted “Me” where “Lawyer” should be. The advice was to wait, as it would take a good 5-6 months to get a court hearing anyway. If MRI paid back the commission it would cost less in legal fees, and things would be over much quicker. Not that we needed to wait, it just made sense to do so for a while. After a few weeks nothing was heard from the contractor. My lawyer sprang into action again as the contractor claimed he could not get any response from MRI and he was being given the run around. The lawyer phoned directly to MRI's head office in Marbella and experienced the same. This is not a responsible company. Again, nothing more than a bunch of crooks: any credit that MRI has generated over its lifespan as an Overseas Investment Property promoter should be erased.
MRI states that the commissions are none of my business.
I decided to phone MRI myself. After a while I found someone who could deal with the repayment of commissions. I was not surprised to be informed that it was not my concern or any of my business. These commissions are hidden from the client deliberately, MRI does not want you to know how much they earn for doing very little. This masks any property purchased through them being hidden as anything but an investment, when it really is not. They are simply stealing your capital growth before the property has had any chance to make any. In my case there was never going to be any as the collapse had already started. I replied to this nonsensical put-off that it was very much my business as the contractor had defaulted on the contract completion date, and I wanted my deposit back. The contractor had agreed to repay the full deposit as soon as MRI returned the commission. The process was being delayed because MRI had not returned the commission soon enough to avoid an expensive court case against the contractor. This made it very much my business, and I intended to make it so. I accused them of giving the contractor and my lawyer the run around. My remonstrations must have worked because a communication from my lawyer a little while later confirmed MRI was sending a representative from Marbella to settle the situation.
Truly revealing Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero are not independent.
The next episode is truly revealing. MRI had been dragging their feet for a couple of weeks when my lawyer was told the identity of the representative who was coming all the way from Marbella to deal with this situation. What is going to be revealed next is that MRI did not have any real legal representation, and that Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero were not independent: the representative was not coming from Marbella, but from Calpe, and was none other than Mel 4! Unbelievable – the very same lawyer whom I had replaced with my own lawyer.
Here we have Mel 4 representing MRI. That's odd, because he was supposed to be representing me only a few weeks earlier. Why not send a lawyer from a different firm or just an office employee? MRI had no legal representation other than Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero. MRI were either ignorant of or were deliberately flaunting the law. They seemed unaware that a client might know that in Spain as in the UK, it is illegal for a lawyer to represent both parties as clients. At this point it was no longer the case where the second contractor was concerned, but it was a few weeks earlier and had been: MRI had introduced me to Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero as independent lawyers. When I think about it, the contracts for the third contractor on the third and fourth properties were still in the hands of Mel 4, so they were acting for me and for MRI simultaneously. Caught red handed!
I asked my lawyer to institute proceedings against Mel 4. I received no response to this, but within a few days Mel 4 communicated to my lawyer that they would not be attending any meetings over this matter as they did not represent MRI. The process had now stalled completely, and we were back to square one in dealing with the contractor. Even though I enquired again about suing Mel 4, it was just brushed under the carpet. I believe my lawyer had communicated my request to Mel 4, causing them to pull out. Lawyers have a soppy, soft-love relationship with each other. They understand the position that each can get into and do not like suing each other – to the detriment of the client, I might add. Years later I consulted a British lawyer. It appears that this dual role where lawyer represents doth clients it is not only illegal, but it nullifies all the contracts. I think that translates into that I am entitled to all my money back.
I left this to play out in the hands of my lawyer as, by April 2008, as I was speeding my way to Crete. I had to return to Spain in October 2008 when this matter finally came to its conclusion. Even though the full 42,000 was returned, I lost about 5,000 Euros in legal fees, so that in real terms only recovered about 37,000. Then there were the Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero lawyers' fees and taxes which were lost. I took an out-of-court settlement which the contractor agreed to, but he would not pay any compensation or my legal costs. I took this option just to get rid of all this mess and to cut my losses. It was the right thing to do. If we had waited another 4-6 months to go to court, as the economic situation worsened I might never have got any money returned, even after a court order for the contractor to return the deposit. My lawyer remarked that I was lucky to get my deposit back: many contractors were defaulting on the return of deposits as the money was no longer there. By the end of 2008 things had become much worse and would continue to do so up to the present (2013). In 4-6 months the contractor could have gone bankrupt – best to take what I could while I could, and lose a little than all.
More on wishy-washy Spanish lawyers or just plain corrupt.
There is much more I could add to this chapter, but I think by now the point has been made. It is clear the relationship between MRI and Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero was deceitful in nature, corrupt, and deliberately intended to defraud (I use the term in the strongest sense.) To put it less strongly, operated unprofessional and unethical a business practices designed to relieve clients of their financial wealth through false property investments.
What follows did not inflict any financial loss on me, but it gives another indication of the mind-set of many Spanish lawyers. This is a very recent incident involving a Spanish law firm in February 2013. What follows is the excuse used by a Spanish lawyer to pull out from suing Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero. I include it because of the interest it may have for the reader, but also because I have once again had this particularly Spanish brand of denial of justice for the victim thrust upon me. I feel obliged to make a comment. Insight is always valuable.
I responded to an e-mail trawl from a firm of Spanish lawyers looking for others to join a class action, as did many others. I received no reply and received the same e-mail again several weeks later. After enquiring what had happened to my first response, I received an apology. I forwarded a little more information by way of explanation but not any of the relevant documents. I received a response from the main lawyer concerned to the effect that my case was civil and not criminal. So here we have an attempt to diminish the seriousness of events and to influence my perspective of them. This lawyer, knowing next to nothing of the details of my case, managed to make this deduction. He had not requested details, just tried to influence my way of thinking.
Alarm bells were now clanging loudly; all I could do was continue the exchange. I pointed out that he was incorrect: other lawyers had already assessed that unlawful activity was involved. Even so, if my money could be returned, I did not care if the case was criminal or civil. The exchange continued: they were looking into the issue, and I would receive further communication at a later date. Over a month passed; no further communication had been received. Others who had acted as I had reported the same lack of communication from these lawyers: it caused an outcry of suspicion. After three further communications during a one-week period with no response, I asked if I had been retained on file for future consideration. I again received an apology: the matter was still being looked into, but there was no confirmation that I had been retained on a list of victims. That was the last I heard from them. Below is a communication sent to another individual – obtained only after much pushing – which was then posted on a public site for us all to read.
"Regarding the civil action against Martinez lawyers, this was contemplated in our initial communications and we specified the legal grounds on which it would be based, noting that our efforts would be channelled towards the criminal avenue.
On further consideration about a civil action against Martinez, we have been advised that it would be counterproductive for our clients to sue a firm, for professional negligence, that is based in our own town. The reason for this is that courts could view that we are trying to cause financial harm to a direct competitor within the marketplace with a view to increase our presence (which would surely be invoked by the defendants) and consequently, prejudice the effectiveness of the claim.
This is also connected to the fact that we are suing the real estate agent that was recommending their firm, in a criminal court in Marbella.
So whilst we consider that there is a case of professional negligence that needs to be answered, we feel that our involvement would not benefit the legitimate aspirations of claimants because of the above reasons, at this point in time."
Putting this communication under the microscope.
Advised by whom? How many lawyers and different elements whose interests were at stake sat around a table to come up with this load of old garbage? It is garbage. I have passed it by a retired legal friend and it as I have suspected nonsense. It basically translates that lawyers are untouchable by the law. All major law firms in cities will establish an office, so they are saying that every court will view it this way – “marketplace competition.” What happened to the case that was based on the accused having broken the law and the victims being entitled to justice. The excuse denies the very basis of legal representation against lawyers, who can then act with criminal immunity. To make this clearer, it basically suggests that a judge cannot tell the difference between a case submitted blatantly to discredit the competition – a case with no merit – from a genuine case of unlawful activity that needs to be heard. Again, we are all viewed as idiots by those that pursue criminal and unjust activity. This lawyer has bought suspicion upon himself that he may commit fraud in the future.
Through a court order, a Spanish property owned by Mr. MacAnthony worth over 10 million has been seized. With the case successfully concluded, one has to hope the property can then be sold and the victims have their wealth returned with compensation. This sum of money produces a surplus of cash to compensate the victims in this specific case; it also has the potential to put right the injustice for many others outside of this particular court case. There is a need for a committee to control and allocate the funds seized to compensate genuine, identified victims, a committee that can make all the procedures transparent to ensure that there is no further dishonest activity.
Is this going to happen? It does not look like it. Consider this. I was at no time given a client reference number. They have never acknowledged that they had started a file on me, and never explored the genuineness of my claim by requesting supporting documents. Other potential clients who were considering making a case against Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero were experiencing the same treatment. I believe they had simple deleted me as a victim. They have clearly distanced themselves from my case as though I did not exist. Why? Because my claim is for over a quarter of a million Euros, which they do not want to end in my pocket but their own. Why else have I been treated with such disdain?
I can only speculate at this point what their end goal might be, but their actions do not translate into justice for those that need it. Are we going to see millions simply disappear as dishonest judges, lawyers and others jump onto the get-rich-quick bandwagon? Are we going to see further accusations of corruption hit the news media as they ask, “Where did all that money go?” Could I be wrong? Of course, I have experienced too much to allow myself to ignore my suspicions, suspicions fostered by the very actions of this law firm. There are several other scenarios that could be submitted here for consideration. I am not going to fill you up with more speculation, what be the outcome, only time will tell.
This corruption is at the heart of the legal profession: it bends to outside pressure from government or any other interested party. Spanish lawyers are garbage: the stench that emanates from them requires a very efficient gas mask to survive any close encounter. Again I make no apology for my expressive conduct. I cannot control my disgust with them and wish I could find a more passive but pungent way to convey myself. That’s pungent enough, you may well think, but not if you are a victim, not if this is just one more lawyer displaying the same disregard for justice for those that truly need it. Again, I have had to endure the fact that they are only interested in self-gain. Why did this law firm ever consider this case in the first place? Would this excuse already have been understood before offering to take it on. I believe it is just another scam, a scam operating in the guise of trying to obtain justice. They obtain a little justice for a few in order to look good but, at the cost of denying a wider need. They intend to line their own pockets if they can get away with it. There are ten million reasons, an enticement almost impossible for anyone to resist if they think they can get away with it. Time will bring to light how all this will play out because by the time this book is published, these actions will not have reached their conclusion.
“We consider there is a case of professional negligence to be answered,” but notice the total withdrawal: there is no advice forthcoming on where to find a law firm that might not be subject to the same ridiculous set of principles. So we are trying to prevent you and anyone else from getting Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero to answer for their professional negligence. It was deliberate, premeditated fraud, not just professional negligence, and now there is an attempt to aid to avoid answering for it. There is no expectation of the future sums of money that might be recovered to compensate victims without the need of a court case. It is vital that any sums recovered do not become subject to further criminal activity from Spanish lawyers, and that they reach those who are rightfully entitled to them. I think it is case of “watch this space.”
Articles of Spanish legal practice.
To complement the above, I have inserted below this paragraph something of interest. It explains exactly the infringement in European and Spanish law that took place through the collaboration of MRI and Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero. Maybe this is why this law firm backed out: the case is so strong that they were persuaded not to proceed in order to avoid damaging one of their own. However, I go for financial gain and loss as the consideration here. Early in 2012, while considering legal action against Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero, the extracts below were compiled by a UK lawyer (not practising at the time), who estimated it would take £6,000 alone to start an international case against Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero. No wonder most pulled out: they were priced out of justice. Take a look at Spanish and European law below, and relate it to everything you have read so far. This clearly vindicates and verifies all that has been written. I have introduced some light shading so you can clearly see when it starts and ends.
1. ARTICLE 22 SPANISH STATUTE OF LEGAL PRACTICE.
This Article provides that any lawyer who is:
"...simultaneously carrying out any other activity will have to refrain from it should it be deemed incompatible with the correct practice of the legal profession, given that he/she would be incurring a conflict of interest that prevents them from respecting the principles of the correct practice of the profession."
The 'lawyer' representing me was transferring a 'kickback' of 20% of any money which I paid to it, to MRI Overseas Property. Hence the Defendant was effectively already representing the agent who introduced me to it. Not only was the Defendant was clearly unable to give independent advice in these circumstances (because it had a direct financial interest in whether I continued with the purchases or not), its kickback fees would increase with every property its partners talked me into buying.
2. ARTICLE 23 SPANISH STATUTE OF LEGAL PRACTICE.
This Article provides that any lawyer who has:
"...incurred any cause of incompatibility established in the previous article will have to communicate it, inexcusably to the Law Society and immediately cease from carrying out the representation that is deemed to be a conflict of interest, and understand that he/she renounces to the practice of the legal profession if this situation is not exposed, in writing, within thirty days."
There is a clear conflict of interest. MRI Overseas Property was referring thousands of clients to the Defendant each month. For each client the Defendant advised, the Defendant was transferring a fee to MRI Overseas Property. At no point did the Defendant communicate that such a conflict existed, and at no point did the Defendant cease representation.
3. CODE OF CONDUCT FOR EUROPEAN LAWYERS.
All lawyers in Europe are required to be absolutely independent (2.1 of the Code of Conduct for European Lawyers). The Defendant compromised the professional standards of the profession in order to achieve financial gain. As a result, the contract for legal services is nullified and any legal advice, and I say again that no actual legal advice was given, has no value (2.1.2 Code of Conduct).
MRI and Martinez-Echevarria, Perez y Ferrero flouted Spanish and European law and ignored it to a criminal extent, entering into a willing co-operation to commit fraud. How else do you translate the above? The big issue here is why is there no justice? The justice systems are completely useless, riddled with over charging and lawyers concerned only with lining their own pockets, caring little for obtaining justice. Corruption is rife, not only in terms of bad representation also but financially and politically, serving evil instead of defending the rights of those harmed by evil. Who can blame anyone for taking the law into their own hands? It is obvious Mr. MacAnthony believed that someone would, otherwise why the need to surround himself with bodyguards?
The PDF can be purchased from my own site:
Or the PDF can be obtained for free as a twitter follower, scroll down the past tweets to find the link: @Slwstephen
Or from the e-mail link from my website: