Shock for hundreds of expat victims as court dismisses giant €35 million CWM pension fraud case

A DEVASTATED expat couple have slammed the decision to dismiss a giant pension fraud case that saw hundreds of Brits robbed of their life savings in Spain.

They are furious a court has ruled there is insufficient evidence to prosecute four executives of collapsed financial firm Continental Wealth Management (CWM).

However Denia Court hasn’t entirely absolved them of criminal conduct, nor ruled out further proceedings, with the victims set to launch a new case in Madrid. 

CWM allegedly defrauded up to 1,000 mostly British expats of €35 million between 2013 and 2017.

The firm placed their pensions in high-risk investments which, initially, paid out huge commissions, but later collapsed leaving them with nothing.

But after a four-year litigation process the judge ruled that a class action by 17 victims failed to bring enough proof of wrongdoing.

CWM employees Paul Clarke, and Stephen Ward were also co-defendants in the complex case that was hindered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It also spanned jurisdictions in Ireland, Germany, Malta, and Cyprus. 

The judge added many of them had worked in finance and ‘had the risks explained to them’.

“Surely someone is accountable for what happened,” the British couple, who wish to remain anonymous, told the Olive Press.

Sole director Jody Smart and ex-husband, mastermind Darren Kirby, stood accused of fraud, disloyal administration and falsification of documents.

The pair allegedly forged investors’ signatures and made changes to documents without the investor’s consent, although this was unproved.

Angie Brooks, who represented many of the victims, blamed the failure on the complexity of the case.

“Under EU law, it’s not enough for the investors to say they accept the risk,” the pensions specialist told the Olive Press.

“They also have to make sure that they spell out what the risks mean.”

However, she is now launching a new claim with fresh complainants in the High Court in Madrid and will also take on other insurance and pension companies involved in the alleged scam.

“We will work with the prosecutor to make this a proper national case to bring a criminal trial against not just the advisors but also the other parties that are involved as well.

“We need to see somebody going to prison, because these people have walked off with millions,” she insisted. 

While Kirby failed to turn up at court and his whereabouts are unknown, Smart’s husband, Franco Pearson insisted Jody would not be commenting on the apparent victory.

The chef, who runs a restaurant in Benissa, added: “Go get a life.”


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