” You have won. » Standing on a bench, facing several dozen civil parties, in the gallery of the Paris courthouse, Tuesday November 28, Me Charles Constantin-Vallet sums up in three words the long judgment just handed down by the Court of Appeal: the conviction of BNP Paribas Personal Finance for “deceptive commercial practice” and “concealment” of this offense in the so-called “Helvet Immo” case. is indeed confirmed.
The 100% subsidiary of BNP Paribas, best known for the Cetelem brand, was sentenced in February 2020 to the maximum fine of 187,500 euros and to compensate more than 2,500 borrowers. In September of the same year, the court of appeal refused to suspend this compensation.
At the heart of the matter, a product launched in 2008, reserved for financing real estate investments within the framework of tax exemption schemes, Robien and Scellier among others. Marketed through brokers and wealth management advisors, this product, sold to 4,655 borrowers in total, for a total amount of some 800 million euros, had the particularity of being a loan in Swiss francs. refundable in euros.
A formula which made it possible to benefit from more advantageous interest rates, but exposed borrowers to the entire exchange risk in the event of a change in the parity between the euro and the Swiss franc. However, this weakness did not take long to materialize: in 2010, the debt crisis in the euro zone, undermining confidence in the single currency, caused the euro to fall by more than 20% in a few months in the face of Swiss franc, which mechanically resulted in a surge in the amount to be reimbursed.
“Finally received in their capacity as victims”
Martine and Jean-Marie Delamaere, now retired (he was a mechanic, she a housekeeper), still pay 894 euros per month to the bank and owe him nearly 152,000 euros, more than the initial amount borrowed (139 000 euros). In total, according to the lawyer, the financial damage is nearly 155,000 euros. A debt which committed them for twelve more years. “We are especially worried about our children”explains Mme Delamaere. “In addition, the apartments we bought have depreciated: they are now only worth 130,000 euros. »
The appeal decision does not cancel the loan taken out by the couple (civil proceedings are underway for this purpose) but “they are finally received in their capacity as victims and properly compensated”welcomed Me Constantin-Vallet. “There are always possible recourses but concretely, today, they are coming out of this hell. »
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