British multinational banking giant Barclays will pay almost £181 million (€215 million) in compensation to around 6,000 customers who were improperly sold timeshares in Malta via the now-defunct Azure Services, according to The Telegraph.
The tourism and timeshare company centred on the Radisson Blu Golden Sands filed for liquidation in May 2020. Before then, is accused of utilising aggressive and underhanded sales tactics dating back almost a decade.
In some cases, this is said to have included customers being invited on free holidays to the country and then pressured into taking out high-interest loans for timeshare properties at Azure Resorts.
The bank has said it is refunding all payments and fees to customers who had “expressed dissatisfaction,” following a detailed review of complaints related to the timeshare offering.
According to the campaign group Azure Malta Action and Support Group, Azure Services used a variety of underhanded sales tactics to persuade customers to enter contracts that were “unsuitable, unwanted and unaffordable.”
These sales were implemented through Barclays Partner Finance, using agreements already printed in adance and ready for signing even before consumers had agreed to the sale.
According to the group, no employment, bank, ID or affordability checks were carried out, and loans were issued to pensioners, people on Government benefit, as well as some facing life-threatening illnesses.
Victims “suffered due to the ruthless effectiveness of Azure’s sales techniques and the instant availability of Barclays loans. As a result, some have had to delay their retirements, and re-mortgage or “down-size” their homes in order to stay solvent,” it adds.
The aforementioned payment comes on top of the £37 million (€44 million) paid to around 1,500 customers in June last year, with these refunds related only to loans brokered between 2014 and 2016.
Azure Services was set up in 2003 specifically to sell vacation ownership at the five star Golden Bay hotel, Radisson Blu Golden Sands.
In 2015, the Corinthia Group assumed a 50 per cent share of the company, as part of its takeover if the Islands Hotels Group, which formerly managed the hotel.
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