CAM Bank vows to resolve expats savings drama

HUNDREDS, possibly thousands, of expatriates who invested their savings in CAM €1,000 bonds last summer but have been unable to recover their money have been promised a ‘solution’ by the bank.

CAM or Caja de Ahorros del Mediterraneo has assured that ‘no customer will be left without a ‘solution’ to their investment, an official bank source has told EWN.

This follows the possibly thousands of international clients of CAM who in the summer of 2011 invested millions, if not billions of euros, in 100 per cent refundable bonds.

They had a small rate of return attached to them, but investors were later told they could not get their money back.

CAM said that in late March Sabadell CEO Miguel Montes spoke at a conference specifically about the situation of owners of ‘preference shares and subordinated debt’, where he said the bank would offer a solution so customers could cash in their savings.

CAM has vowed to contact affected customers individually in the weeks following the integration of CAM into Sabadell Bank, stressing this would take place ‘before summer’.

One of those who took up the offer was Bill Farnworth, who said: “I, and many hundreds of expats on the Costa Blanca, have been unable to access our money and savings held in the CAM Bank.

“They are refusing to cash in CAM bonds issued by the CAM Bank. These are €1,000 bonds.

I hold a number of them, amounting to a considerable amount of my retirement savings.

I asked to sell them on October 5, 2011, and was issued the ‘Orden de Transferencia’ stamped by the bank.

 Normally this process takes three to four days and the funds are deposited in your account. Seven months later, I am still waiting to see my money!”

While Bill struggles to survive in Spain without access to his savings, others have been forced back to the UK, including Alan and Olivia Rogers.

Alan said: “Olivia and I left Spain for good in January and have settled back in Scotland.

We could not afford to wait any longer for answers from CAM or Sabadell.”

During the summer, Alan tried to cash in his bonds to pay for medical treatment for Olivia, only to find out that CAM refused to pay.

Having lived in Spain for many years and run various businesses, they have always paid their full ‘autonomo’ (self employed) fees.

CAM agreed to pay Alan’s autonomo for one month to ensure that Olivia continued to receive her medical treatment.

This was to be a nointerest loan repayable when the investment money was paid back to them.

However, this offer turned out to be another lie by the area manager, backed up by CAM’s Head Office, who began phoning the couple and demanding repayment, said Alan.

The matter came to a head the week before Christmas when CAM sent a debt collector to their door.

Alan continued: “We decided before leaving Spain to repay the autonomo as we did not want any further contact with debt collectors.

CAM eventually wrote to me confirming that they had wiped the interest, which they had said they were not going to charge when they advanced the money!

“Our account is now sitting with a zero balance waiting for them to repay our original investment.”

 Businessman Nick Price has had to close his business. He said: “I worked on a number of jobs for clients and put in my bill.

However, when these clients went to the CAM bank, they could not cash in their bonds to pay me and so I had to go into debt! The banks still expect me to pay my mortgage.

If I miss a payment, the banks are on the phone within the week. It’s one law for them and another for us.”

Bill added: “After seven months of waiting there is not a lot to add.

I can’t get any information from the bank manager, who says he doesn’t know any more than me.

He keeps saying don’t worry, Sabadell will make you a good offer; whatever that means.”

The general consensus is that Sabadell will offer the value of their investment in Sabadell shares, he said.

Meanwhile, in March Sabadell CEO Montes stressed that although Sabadell cannot buy these shares, it will ‘study each case individually’ and offer ‘alternatives’, the same CAM source told EWN.

By Keith Nicol and John Jackson

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