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Trial and punishment: the role of the international banks in the mortgage fraud in Spain

Since the bursting of the housing market bubble in 2008 and its devastating and perverse impact on poor families in many countries, including Spain, a constant struggle has been developed by its victims against the mortgage fraud implemented by the financial entities in the financial system with the approval and support of various state agencies.

Hundreds of thousands of families have lost their homes due to foreclosure proceedings which are null and void in fact and violate the law recognized by the EU legislation itself. Besides losing their house and all the family savings invested in housing, families have been left with a huge debt due to the overvaluation of their homes, the  financial costs and the legal fees.

These evictions of foreclosed families without alternative housing constitute a clear violation of human rights, which has been tolerated by the various powers of the Spanish State.

In addition, financial institutions have taken over all the assets and savings that families have been spending for years to pay for housing.

When the people affected by mortgage fraud run out of family heritage and still have a huge unpayable debt inscribed for life in defaulter’s records, they have been thrown into economic and social exclusion, in the same way a number of other services and rights have been affected.

In recent times several hedge funds like Blackstone, Centerbridge, Cerberus, Apollo, Marathon and Castlelake have made their presence known in Spain, to manage real estate assets belonging to financial institutions, comprising houses, seized from families ruined by mortgages, which have been fraudulently taken over by banks at ridiculous prices, as well as bad debt of companies participating in the housing bubble. So far, they are handling a volume of €277,000 million from the real estate business.

The presence of such predatory financial actors has also been felt in the acquisition of public housing dedicated to social purposes.

Goldman Sachs, Blackstone, and Azora have acquired nearly 5,000 homes of this type.

Under these circumstances, the Madrid Platform of People Affected by Mortgage (PAH Madrid) has proposed to continue the fight including the TRIAL AND PUNISHMENT campaign to point out the guilty people in mortgage scam and underline their responsibilities.

These actions are part of the Social Audit of the Mortgage Fraud, because as we have seen over the years, the state responsible for defending citizens and ensuring respect for the rights of this  important group has not met its responsibility but has chosen to protect the interests of the banks. Therefore, it is the citizenship, social organizations, and professionals with social sensitivity and social commitment who have taken over the task to develop the audit of this serious process that has brought ruin to millions of families within the Spanish state.

This audit also includes participatory research activities in the financial and legal framework, and is also associated with social studies, inquiries of psychological impact, etc.

PAH Madrid conducts these processes because the victims of this scam, and society as a whole, have the right to know the truth: what happened, who was involved in it and who allowed it and which were the committed violations, illegalities, abuses, etc. and the corresponding responsibilities.

Our intention is to take the partial and overall results of this audit, plus the evidence provided by the victims, to court and require sanction and punishment for the guilty. The legal action has already been launched and legal proceedings have been initiated against three financial institutions, which will be expanded in the future to others responsible for the scam.

Another objective is to demand reparations for victims, compensate for the damages caused and demand compliance of the rights violated.

Finally, there must be a guarantee of non-repetition, both through the necessary legal and institutional reforms, and through the education and monitoring and supervision of the relevant authorities.

The fundamental pillar on which we will support this enormous task is the organization and social mobilization at different levels and spaces, in different territories; we will keep our organized presence and activities of denunciation and signaling, resistance, research and solidarity with other social struggles.

As part of all this diverse and multiple process, at this stage we seek to highlight the role and responsibility of international banks in the housing bubble and the mortgage scam implemented in recent decades in Spain. We are already committed to this job and we invite and asked you to join us, as the financial and real estate fraud has been developed and continues to develop at European and global level, with the necessary complicity of major global financial institutions.


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