In­vest­ment vic­tim’s ‘life of mis­ery’

Costa Blanca News (South Edition) - - News - Jtroughton@cb­

By Jack Troughton COSTA Blanca res­i­dent Joan Brown who lost more than €640,000 in bad in­vest­ments said this week she was liv­ing ‘an ut­terly mis­er­able and hor­ri­ble life’.

Forced to count ev­ery penny and sur­viv­ing on a state pen­sion, the 85 year old has been twice driven to at­tempt sui­cide af­ter suf­fer­ing the mas­sive losses to her re­tire­ment nest egg. Joan, who lives in Jávea, is one of hun­dreds of in­vestors who trusted fi­nan­cial ad­vice com­pany Con­ti­nen­tal Wealth Man­age­ment SL, which crashed just over a year ago with losses es­ti­mated to be be­tween €60 mil­lion to €80 mil­lion.

Safe low and medium risk in­vest­ments were found to have been moved to high-risk and illiq­uid hold­ings that earned high com­mis­sions for CWM, based at La Xara.

She told Costa Blanca News some €101,000 re­mains from her main stake, held by Scan­di­na­vian in­vest­ment bank SEB but it can­not be with­drawn with­out pay­ing huge penal­ties – in­come from the hold­ing has long since van­ished. An­other smaller and later in­vest­ment can only be re­deemed by pay­ing €44,000.

“It is like hit­ting a brick wall; I don’t seem to be get­ting any­where, it is ter­ri­ble,” she said.

Joan and hus­band Derek moved to Spain 24 years ago. She said that ‘com­pletely out of char­ac­ter’, Derek re­sponded to CWM cold calls in 2008 and trusted their money to the com­pany.

How­ever, he suf­fered a stroke in 2010 and de­vel­oped de­men­tia – al­though Joan be­lieves he was al­ready fall­ing vic­tim to the cruel dis­ease.

Her hus­band passed away in Au­gust 2014 – and her beloved golden re­triever Har­vey had to be put to sleep ear­lier this year aged 14.

Joan said: “I just wake up ev­ery morn­ing, think­ing ’what’s the point? Every­thing has gone: my hus­band my dog and my money.

“Money does not buy hap­pi­ness but it does al­low you to buy an air­fare to see friends, to go shop­ping, to en­joy life.

“I re­ally, re­ally can­not see the point of liv­ing a life of ut­ter mis­ery.”

She al­leges she was asked to sign pa­pers and agreed to al­low CWM to fill in the de­tails, lit­tle re­al­is­ing she was in af­fect au­tho­ris­ing switch­ing money into a high risk hold­ing and ex­tend­ing the pe­riod un­til ma­tu­rity.

Alarm bells started ring­ing over the smaller €104,000 in­vest­ment, made in 2014, when she re­ceived an an­nual state­ment.

“There is al­ways an oc­ca­sion when they go up and down a lit­tle bit; from the be­gin­ning this was down enor­mous amounts,” she said.

“I can­not come to terms with the fact I have lost €640,000; it is a hell of a lot of money and my life should be so dif­fer­ent. It is get­ting worse, not bet­ter.”

Joan said she ex­pected to be paid com­pen­sa­tion from CWM reg­u­la­tors but none was forth­com­ing while SEB main­tained it acted in ac­cor­dance with signed pa­per­work.

She said stress meant she could not eat – her weight has fallen from nine stone eight pounds to around eight stone – and she takes val­ium daily to help her cope.

She said the only hope was le­gal ac­tion be­ing brought by an­other fi­nance com­pany but fears it will be too late – at present she has put her home up for sale and plans to down­size and re­turn to the UK.

“I will have to live on the pro­ceeds of the sale of the house, there is noth­ing left. How th­ese peo­ple can sleep at night, I just don’t know,” she said.

Joan is be­ing helped by Christina Brady an as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial man­age­ment com­pany Black­tower.

Cristina said some 30 CWM clients had asked for her ad­vice and she had tried to trace funds and at­tempted to get money re­leased.

“The sad­dest thing is peo­ple are still in limbo; noth­ing has been re­solved and noth­ing has ma­te­ri­alised...peo­ple need clar­i­fi­ca­tion of where they stand.”

Joan Brown

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