A bank employee recommended that he invest all his money in toxic financial products. Francisco Guerrero, 68, has December 14, 2005 tattooed in his mind. On that day, this bricklayer born in Barbate (Cádiz) earned 6.47 million euros.
That day, too, his misfortune began. Guerrero was “the happiest man in the world” until that moment. He put all his money in the hands of a Santander employee. This employee recommended that he invest the money in full in financial products. The problem is that they turned out to be toxic.
The awardee was a self-employed man. He did not know anything about investment. So not only lost his money but all the properties he had built in a lifetime of work. The Castellón Provincial Court held on Thursday the civil trial of his lawsuit. Guerrero and his family against the bank. (the fourth process of a 14-year judicial journey). “I’m dead alive,” he repeats over and over again.
That December 14, Francisco Guerrero learned he was a millionaire when he got home from work.
“I thought the prize was pesetas. Because in euros the amount escaped me.” he acknowledges.
The joy turned into impotence just two years later. All by chance and without having tasted the prize.
“[The Santander employee] told me that the money would be in a good place. He told me it was a fixed term without risk. They were going to give me 17%, I didn’t even know what it was. I trusted blindly and they destroyed my life.” He sobs at the gates of the Provincial Court of Castellón.
Francisco lost everything. Including the part (40%) that he reserved for his four children (650,000 euros each). He did not touch a penny. The courts have already agreed with him three times.
“I have won all three trials with the truth,” he says.
In 2016 and 2018, separate rulings ordered the bank to pay. 1.06 Million euros plus interest to him, and another 1.2 million plus interest to his children. But Guerrero assures the debts generated by the toxic products have taken away everything. He endorsed the purchase of those products with his properties, which were mortgaged. “All at a time when he was solvent.” says his legal representative.
Now he faces the last phase of the process. He exhausts the civil procedure. He claims more than two million euros for another part of the investments made and lost. Depending on the sentence, they will resort to criminal proceedings.
“I live as a squatter in my own house”
He wasn’t able to pay the mortgage of his own home. He now suffers from depression and a chronic generalized anxiety disorder. Triggered, of course, by the banking conflict.
“I am in psychological treatment; I’m sick. I don’t deserve it.”
The latest favorable ruling, issued by the Castellón Court, condemns Banco Santander to return around 163,000 euros to Guerrero. Also, to two of his daughters for damages. After winning the lottery, the money was deposited in Barclays Bank.
“There was a poor management by the bank. So the accounts were transferred to Banco Santander Central Hispano in January 2007. In March 2007, the total transfer took place.”
Francisco Guerrero has no studies and is “totally ignorant in financial matters”. He invested the 6.5 million euros in Banco Santander. He believed those were fixed-term deposits without risk. But instead, he contracted toxic products with high risk. This not only made him lose everything invested, but also generated debts.
The two previous rulings were favorable to the victim. Apparently, the plaintiffs were not informed of the risks that these products could entail.
“He relied at all times on the information provided by the bank.”
They claim that there was no pre-contractual information. The profile of plaintiffs’ investment was nor determined.
He has never been to school
“I have never been to school. I don’t even know what profitability is. You give me a pick and a shovel and I’ll do a job for you. But I don’t know anything about banks.” Guerrero insists.
It was not until two years later that Francisco learned that the award had vanished without even passing through his hands. Despite becoming a millionaire overnight, he continued to work as a bricklayer, leaving the award parked in what he believed to be a safe place. It was because of a knee ailment that he learned the bad news. He went to his bank to get 30,000 euros for an operation in Barcelona and they told him that he had nothing.
Today, Guerrero rushes his last cartridge.
“We are fighting and claiming all the damage, because I am ruined, dead alive. Let’s see if Banco Santander pays for the damage it has done to me. I trust the judges, the justice. I have to win this judgment because I deserve it.” he asserts.
Nostalgia fills him as he looks back. When he worked as a sailor, in the field, the hotel industry or as a bricklayer. He even set up a small renovation company.
“I won the lottery and that has been my death. They have taken away my house, the land I had, my life… What else do they want to take from me?”
“What they have done to me is not right, no. Before, I was happy. The happiest in the world ”, he concludes.