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Tomasz Sadlik (Poland): How FX Loans can ruin a life

Posted on 14/09/2016 · Posted in Fight of Titans, FX Loans in Europe, News, Poland, Protests
  • The past Saturday 10th of September, thousands of polish citizens took  the Varsovian streets. Tomasz Sadlik, one of the most known polish activsts (nacionaly and internashionsly), fights for a fair solution for over half a thousand affected bank consumers by FX Loans.
  • The polish goverment has been obliged to offer solutions, but these still are not helping the bank victms. In the mean time, the polish Supreme court has just announced a favorable ruling in favor of the clients (sentence nr. II CSK 750/15).
  • The polish activist explains in his interview what the consequences of being an FX Loans victim are. He offers how his marriage and buissness were destroyed and how he suffered depresesion and cannot go back to his native country. Sadlik knows people that have commited suicide. 

Tomasz Sadlik needed there in 2007 an office in Cracovia to be able to satisfy the demands of his translating and interpretation buisness. This same year he asked his bank, The Raiffeisen Bank, for a 600.000 Zlotys (aprox. 138.000 €) loan. In 2013 he was already in a 1.1 million Zlotys debt (250.000€), all due to the fact that his mortgage was in a diferent currency. Sadlik signed an FX loan , and did not know he was also signing a nightmare. The story of this victm is so cruel that even the american journal, the Financial Times, explained his story. This newspaper stated that the president of ProFuturis “did not calculate the risks of the Zlotys loosing value towards the swiss franc”, when it should have been the bank that did this.

According to Sadlik the banks did not fulfill any of their obligations. They had to inform the clients, and not only did they not do this, but they manipulated the information they were offering. “They claimed that having this type of loan would only have benefits. These benefits were said to last 30 years. It was in 2013 when Sadlik decided to go to court against his bank. The Raiffeisen Bank clearly had an abusive contract. In Saliks case he has lost all the trials and is now expecting for the ruling of the Supreme court. This past 9th of September, the polish Supreme court has just announced a favorable ruling in favor of the clients (sentence nr. II CSK 750/15). The polish activist has all his hopes set on this new context.

Sadliks case is very known in Poland. In many ways the story  of this activist have place to a strong and important movement, that represents thousands of familys fighting against the banks and the placement of toxic products. Different polish assosicstions start uniting managing to organize msnifeststions where more than 10,000 people take part. Awareness and acceptance is such that in the election campaign of 2015, all politicians had to refer to this issue. The actual president of Poland, Andrezj Duda, also mentioned many times during his campaign the FX Loans victims. The President certainly knew promising political reforms to help those affected by these mortgages also ment To secure himself more than half a million votes.

Five months after his inauguration as President, Duda has not even kept his word. There is still no law to protect consumers banking and many affected continue to lose in the courts. The ProFuturis association and organization of Consumer Rights Protection have accomplished more on their own. They have created an institution for the protection of consumer rights in the financial market Rzecznik finansowy . To keep having Duda’s attention, last Saturday more than 10,000 people demonstrated they are still demanding protection .

What was the main objective of this manifeststion?

That Duda fulfills the promise he made to nearly 600,000 affected families. We have spent many years organizing protests that have attracted between 2 and 10 thousand people. Duda promised to give a similar solution to the one the Croatian government did. In Croatian, they forgived the debt generated and the victims began to pay the mortgages with their national currency, responding to the interest there was at time of the signature.

Can you explain the Polish political context? Are the judicial organisms in favor or against?

Officially, all parties are in favor of an equitable solution. None has proven to be to suportive to the banks. They may be more or less enthiusiastic about the solutions, but they also said to be in discontent with the banks. The problem is that they are now beginning to realize that those whom are suffering consequences are the bank consumers because of the misconduct of the banks. There are some citizens whom are starting to win the ruling, but it’s too late. We all signed our contracts in the same years (2006-2007) and soon we will loose out legal rights to protest, as will happen to me.

How are banks reacting to this possible change in the results of judgments? How have they reacted to what the Supreme Court has stated?

Banks are seeking agreements. Many all of a sudden are economically compensating those affected, but these have had to sign confidentiality agreements that make them not be able to publicly claim anything else.

Beyond national support, can you count on international support? Do you have hope in consumer protection at a European level, having been one of the participants in the conference at Brussels organized by ASUFIN?

All hope that this might happen, I have it on Patricia Suarez, the president of the spanish assosciation ASUFIN. Of course all support is necesary. For example, to the protest last Saturday, the italian association TuconFin came all the way from their country to support our cause.

Speaking of national and international banks … What were those who traded with this product?

Banks with a presence in Poland (both national and international), all placed this product, except two: One is an Italian, that stated that after seeing the consquences this porduct had in Iceland or Australia, they did not want to work with it. The other bank that did not sell it was a Polish bank because it has conservative ideas. Those who have commercialized with this product have been especially the international banks, driven by our entry into the European Union in 2004. They began placing FX Loand especialy to small companies , but soon began to do the same with individuals.

What was the strategy followed by the polish banks in Poland to place FX Loans?

Between 2004 and 2010 they have placed thousands of multicurrency mortgages. They were offered as a great product, and the banks invested a lot in publicity and did a great marketing campagin. They talked about this product as a cheaper and more way of having a mortgage. I also received an email from my bank, Raiffeisen Bank, recommending this product. They literaly did all they could to convince you this was the best idea and a great investment. They claimed that you could save up to 100 euros per month, if you payed the mortgage in Swiss francs rather than in the national currency is the Zloty. They also claimed that they had calculated the risk and that this was nonexistent. 30 years after the signing of the contract, you would still percieve the benefits of paying in a foreign currency.

What happened from here?

It was not until 2008 when the victims, as myself, realize the problem they were immersed in. With the crisis, the Polish currency completely sank. Within a few months the Zloty had devalued by up to 70%. Suddenly all the consumers of this product were overpaying their mortgage. I personally ended up paying up to twice the amount.

Can you briefly explain your legal battle ?

It all began in 2013. In 2014 I lost in the first instance and a year later lost my appealing. In 2016 I retried at the Provincial Court, where I also lost. Today I’m waiting for the decision of the Supreme Court.

Although your case when trying to find justice is being so hard, do you recommend seek this?

Yes. My lawyer is confident that we will win in Strasbourg.

What do you think of the Polish justice?

It´s too slow, it takes between five and ten years, and in no time I can not legally fight because the deadline will occure. To be fair, at least apparently know it it starting to realize it did not do well.

What are the consequences of being a victim of FX Loans?

My buissness had to end up closing, it destroyed my marriage, I fell into a strong depression and I am currently in an economic exile living in Spain. I do not know when I can go back to Poland …