Fight of the Titans: Story of 2 Italian Activists

Posted on 29/06/2016 · Posted in FX Loans in Europe, Italy
  • The activists Sheila Meneghetti (Italy), Franca Berno (Italy), along with Tomasz Sadlik (Poland) explained in a seminar organized by ASUFIN and the activist Patricia Suárez (Spain) the differences between their national situation facing FX LOANS.

  • The seminars main objective is to unite the European activists and manage to make this fight no longer an individual and national fight, but one that will make the banks face European law.

Sheila Meneghetti (age 30) and Franca Berno (53) arrived in Madrid from Italy. They release so much energy that you would even think they are nervous. I guess this is how you react when you are finally receiving the attention you deserve. When they arrive, their luggage is not full of clothes or anything like that. It´s full of documents, papers and contracts that explain their personal case in relation with FX LOANS. Finally, away from their country, someone wants to listen to their story and know about their fight. This is why when they arrive at ASUFIN, where Patricia Suárez and her team are awaiting for them, they are happy to know they will be the protagonists of a seminar on FX LOANS, along with the Polish Activist Tomasz Sadlik. This is the first step for a very long journey that awaits for the activists and victims of FX LOANS. From the Kilometer 0 of Spain (La Plaza de Sol) they are going to start walking towards their final destination: Europe.

In Italy the families with fewer resources did not have access to any type of mortgages. Domestic banks rejected those who’s economic profile was weak that normally were: Families with a single wage, militaries, single parents or those that even with two wages was not enough. Sheila and Franca were both inside this profile. Sheila and her husband )have two underaged children), have two different wages but they hardly reach the minimum expected by the national banks like Franca, whom is a single mother of two. Aware of the situation of these people, Barclay offered FX LOANS, convincing the most vulnerable they finally found a great product.

Between 2007-2008 both Italians went to Barclays, after knowing they were offering mortgages. When at the bank, they were offered a different type of mortgage, FX LOAN. The benefits and advantages of the mortgage were apparently extraordinary. They could afford it without being drowned by debts and payments. But as we all know today, the foreigned indexed mortgages accounted yo everything but advantages. The two working mothers were highly indebted by and towards the Bank for mismanagement and lack of real solvency of these mortgages by Barclays.

During their visit to ASUFIN, we were able to interview Sheila and Franca. Both of them have changed from being two affected citizens to two activists. After realizing how their economy and lives had been poisoned by the banking product, they both went to Internet to explain what had happened. It was in a blog where they met each other and they decided to find other cases and create a platform that already has more than 400 affected. Sheila noticed the problem when she went to subrogate, and suddenly found herself brutally indebted for paying in francs. Franca was when she decides to sell her house, and 48 hours before the final processing the bank informed her by email that she also owned money due to her franc payments.  Thanks to joining there forces to deal with Barclays before the courts they are optimistic about their future They started beginning only 2 and they are already more than 400. Through the interview, we hope you can know better the history of Sheila Meneghetti and Franca Berno:

What happened exactly when you realized how dangerous your bank product was?

We both independently went to Internet to tell out story, and here is where we found each other. You were both looking of someone who felt was going through hell, so we could start going through it together.

-What is a relief when you realized you ‘were not alone’? What happened after you met each other?

We both believed that the only way of becoming strong, is if we were united, so that is exactly what we did. We also knew there had to be many more cases out there, so we created a Facebook page called. .: Mutui in € indicizzati al CHF… Come funzionano realmente? We started out being only two and now we are over 400 members. We still must keep going on for there are more than 5.000 FX LOAN victims in Italy and many are not even aware of their situation.

What have you managed to do with this FB page?

We managed to plan everything for a common cause in 2013 with a total of 68 victims, including ourselves. It was in our page where everything was explained and where we managed to unite everyone. The second common counted with 2 people, and the third had 25. We have already presented the three of them and now we are planning the fourth with 10 people. They all have the same thing in common: taking Barclays with their fx loans to court.

Apart from your page, what other ways of spreading the message do you count with?

Even the mass media in debt with bank, so they don´t give media coverage to us. There is a news blackout when it comes to banks and their products so it is extremely complicated for us to inform the rest.

So do you think its possible to manage to reach your goals without media coverage? 

It makes it so much more difficult, but for now we have been able to find other solutions. It limits our cause, and does not let us become as big or as known as we should. The best way of fighting is have people informed. This interview for us, for example, is an important step and very important…

What else is to blame?

It´s hard to find the enough repercussion when the culture of demanding is inexistent. Most italians are not aware of the bank products they manage and the consequences they can have. Bank clients of FX LOANS need this information and need to fight with us.

Can you explain what you consider or understand as ‘the culture of demanding’?

We need more activists and we need more victims fighting for their cause. People have to stop expecting other to solve their problems, and they need to start fighting for themselves. We need to support each other and fight for a common cause, or no one will help or care for us.

Only fighting together is this possible?

Exactly. We must be united, and form a group. Many voices together will be listened to and it will make it unbearable for those who do not want to listen. Only one voice will get lost. This is a national and a european problem, so the voices must be strong for the noise has to travel a lot. All the associations, victims, everyone must stay together so we can find a proper and useful solution to the problem.

What would be you’re advice as a representative of someone who was just a victim more from the banking system and decided to start begin an activist?

Whatever you do, don´t blame yourself. This has not happened to you and you family because of your fault. It´s 100% the banks problem and fault.

Talking about activism… How and why do you know ASUFIN?

Thanks to María. She is a spaniard married to an italian that is part of our FB group. We asked those who had double nationalities or any contact with other countries to find out how things were going in the rest of Europe, since nationally we are very frustrated. After organizing the group, María found ASUFIN and told us everything they had managed and fought for in Spain.

What result are you expecting from the seminar you and the polish activists have formed part of in the headquarters of ASUFIN?

We hope we manage to make everyone more aware of the problem. We hope to instruct more people. We hope to drag this problem from the national borders to Europe.

Do you believe that instructing the citizens is what makes activism possible?

Judges in Italy do not have any information about FX LOANS. They don´t even understand is, as really nobody does for in Italy this product is even more complex than in other countries. We need to make them know what is going on in the rest of europe. It is not even considered a financial derivative. Judges tend to do what the rest do, so we need to bring them the cases of other european countries. If we don´t instruct citizens, the victims, the media, the judges… Everyone will just turn their back thinking this has nothing to do with them.

Can you explain your process in court and in what phase you are at the moment?

We started in 2013 and we think we will finish by he end of 2017. It´s slow, but it´s worth it. We think we are going to win.

What result are you expecting after so many years?

Wining or not is no matter the case. We will go to Strasbourg or wherever we are needed. Making justice and fighting against the banks is what matters.

What would be you main message?

Do not be ashamed. For us the fight started with a simple blog and a fb page (Mutui in € indicizzati al CHF… Come funzionano realmente?) and we are about to be returned what is ours. Everything war need a starting point, and we need every possible soldier with us.

Has this journey changed your view about anything?

We will fight until the victims, all of them, have seen justice and we will never fight alone.

What have been the consequences in Italy of the seminar?

We published on our page that we were coming to Spain, and that same week Barcalys got in contact with us. We know for sure Barclays has people on our fb page and they react one way or another depending on what we say here. After knowing we were going to come to ASUFIN, they asked us to meet up with them. They have started sending commercial proposals, trying and thinking they will persuade us.

What does Barclays expect from this meeting? What is you opinion and your expectations ? 

We will meet their lawyers, accountancies, etc. It will be private and if we accept we will not be able to talk badly about barclays or make anything public. They are trying to avoid their name being related to something toxic as FX LOANS. Whatever they offer us, we will say NO. Instead of helping the client, they are literally trying to buy them. We would be obliged to never take them to court again and we will not give them that pleasure.

So it seems that all together finally managed to scare the banks, right?

Banks tend to think that citizens are worth nothing and will not be able to do anything against them. What they didn’t think correctly is of course on citizen can not high against a bank, but a whole group of citizens can. Personally, I have never met an activist that is scared of them and they should really start taking that into consideration.

What is it exactly that you think scares them?

Unionship and court. That is why we must be united and fight for a European cause. We need to exchange all the information, facts, everything possible and stay united and strong against them.