By Tony Winterburn •
Published: 06 Mar 2020 • 9:25
Francisco Guerrero, 68, has the date of December 14, 2005, engraved in stone, it was the day, the bricklayer born in Barbate (Cádiz) and resident in Castellón for more than five decades won € 6.47 million on the Spanish Bonoloto.
Before that, Guerrero, “the happiest man in the world” had no worries in the world but that was all about to change when…
He put all the money in the hands of a Santander employee who recommended him to invest the money in financial products that turned out to be toxic.
Francisco, self-employed and an absolute layman in investment matters, not only lost the money but also all the properties he had managed to acquire in his working life. The Provincial Court of Castellón yesterday upheld the civil trial of the lawsuit of Guerrero and his family against the bank, the fourth process of his judicial journey of 14 years. “I am dead in life,” he repeats again and again.
That December 14, Francisco Guerrero didn’t even know that he was a millionaire when he arrived home from work. “I thought that the prize was pesetas because in euros the amount escaped me,” he acknowledges.
Joy became sadness when after just two years, and without even spending any of the money. “[The employee of Santander] told me that the money would be in a good place, that it was a fixed term without risk and they would give me 17%, I didn’t even know what it was. I trusted them blindly and they destroyed my life ”, he said as he cried at the gates of the Provincial Court of Castellón.
It wasn’t until two years later that Francisco knew that the prize money had vanished without even going through his hands. Despite becoming a millionaire overnight, he continued to work as a bricklayer, leaving the money parked in what he believed was a safe place. It was due to a knee ailment when he heard the bad news, he went to his bank to get 30,000 euros to pay for an operation in Barcelona and was told he had nothing in the account!
Francisco had lost everything, including the part (40%) he reserved for his four children (650,000 euros each). He did not touch a penny. The courts have already proved him right three times. “I have won all three trials with the truth,” he says. The last two weeks ago. In 2016 and 2018, two decisions condemned the bank to pay 1.06 million euros more interest to him and another 1.2 million more interest to his children.
But Guerrero states that the debts generated by the toxic products have taken everything recovered/made since he signed for and endorsed the purchase of those products with his properties, which were mortgaged “at a time when he was solvent,” says his legal representative.
So the debts of his toxic portfolio were more than the value of his original investment AND of his properties combined!
The economic consequences (“I live as ‘squatter’ in my own home”), are that he has not been able to meet his mortgage payments of the house, located in a small town in Castellón).
He now suffers from depression and a chronic generalized anxiety disorder that was triggered by the banking conflict, according to the psychiatric report that accompanies the latest lawsuit. “I am in psychological treatment; I’m sick. I don’t deserve it, ”he says.
The ruling he won which was issued by the Court of First Instance of Castellón on February 26, and which forced Banco Santander to return around 163,000 euros to Guerrero and two of his daughters for damages, after winning the draw de la Bonoloto the money was deposited in a Barclays Bank.
“Due to the poor management of the bank, the accounts were transferred to Banco Santander Central Hispano in January 2007, and in March 2007 the total transfer took place.”
“I have never been to school; I don’t even know what profitability is. You give me a pick and a shovel and I will do a job for you, but I don’t know anything about banks, ”Guerrero insists.
He said he trusts the justice system and that he will eventually get his money, or some of it, back.
“It’s not good what they have done with me, no. I was happy before. The happiest in the world, ”he concludes.
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