According to the attorney, ING, MeesPierson (now part of ABN AMRO) and Staalbankiers, whose mortgages had been transferred to Achmea, had sold mortgages issued in Swiss francs in the run-up to the financial crisis. At the time, this seemed like an attractive financial product, but now the situation has completely changed.
In 2015, the Swiss central bank launched the link between the franc and the euro. Subsequently, the value of the franc almost doubled. As a result, clients suddenly have to pay back up to twice the original loan amount, says de Geer. He emphasized that the banks did not properly inform their customers at the time.
According to the expert, the European Court of Justice has already indicated that a much better warning should have been given for this type of significant currency risk. According to him, the consequence of this is that the franc component of the mortgage contract is invalid and the difference in the exchange rate of the franc must be for the account of the bank.
In the Netherlands, de Geer estimated total damages at around 750 million euros for thousands of victims. With the CZFL Foundation, created specifically for this purpose, he calls on victims to report. “A large group has already joined the campaign against Achmea, so the summons will be issued soon. As far as ING and ABN AMRO is concerned, the group needs to grow even larger if it is to continue. Collective damage actions always require that a large group bear the costs.”
De Gier is best known for his efforts to recover money to consumers in a usury policy case. He doesn’t always succeed in bringing a case after an injustice is discovered. Last year he argued that banks should repay consumers billions because they have paid out so many variable interest for decades. But De Gier is still trying to find enough funding to take the matter to court.
The latter has become difficult, according to the lawyer, because banks such as ING, Rabobank and ABN AMRO have now come up with compensation schemes for interest paid so much. In De Geer’s point of view, the compensation offered is already insufficient, but according to him, many victims are still inclined to accept the schemes of the banks.
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