IS THE TIDE TURNING ON EVICTIONS?
Yesterday was the day of the Kulaksiz 5 Groups Appeal against the Lower Court Decision that allowed Akfinans Bank to sell on their houses before their main case is completed.
These notes are mine, and are to give those who were not present some feeling of the atmospherics of the hearing. There was no Official Court interpreter or written translation of the hearing. So please refer to Court transcripts in Turkish for complete accuracy.
These notes are how the highlights were related to me from Turkish speakers present. If I have a mistaken impression of some things I offer an unreserved apology for any misrepresentation.
In response to K5 Group, BRS and MNCB publicity carried by supportive web sites and newspapers, a crowd of over 50 supporters had gathered to offer support. The Court was full to the brim with people standing down the sides. The Court authorities reacted quickly and with minimum of delay moved the Appeal to a larger Courtroom. Even this larger Court had people standing in the aisles. In the meantime Akfinans Bank had sent out for reinforcements so now the two Directors present were flanked by two burly bank employees on either side. From the back they looked like 4 bouncers.
The appeal was heard by three eminent Judges. The senior judge, a lady, courteously explained that public standing was not allowed in Court, she asked for extra chairs to be put in the aisle to accommodate as many as possible. Regrettably even then some were excluded and had to stand outside.
Boysan Boyra representing K5 Group was first with his presentation, it was a masterpiece and lasted around 80 minutes. He forensically dissected the K5 events with questions of errant legal, banking and moral procedures characterising the case. Questions like:
How can an 83,000 TL loan to the landowner/developer, granted without the knowledge of the home owners after they had bought their houses, allow Akfinans Bank to claim that homes of up to 3,000,0000 TL in value belong to the Bank.
What is the reason for this? The bank deals in money, and on the one hand claims to be very wealthy, does it need to be more wealthy by grabbing poorer peoples' homes? Or are we to believe the Bank is in desperate need of money so it has to resort to taking peoples' homes to save itself? Homes of people well past earning age who have been seduced to put their life savings into a dream retirement home in the TRNC.
If these people lose their homes they will be impoverished, some will have nowhere to live. Is the Bank mindful of that, or does it just think of money?
Why did the Bank and their advisors ignore the Law in this case? TRNC law 11/78 expressly states that every building or interest in any property on land being mortgaged need to be declared to the Land Registry and all other interested parties consent obtained before a mortgage can be granted.
Why did the application to the Court for possession of the homes of the Kulaksiz 5 group make only mention of a bare field and make no mention that there were completed homes and people were living in them?
Why did the bank make a second advance to the landowner/developer when an earlier small loan was recorded as in default?
Why did the Bank not follow established Banking procedure and after 3 months declare the loan a bad debt? Then recover more than what was owed from the proceeds of sale of the one vacant lender/landowners house.
Why did the Bank allow interest rates of 250% ratchet up the debt to the present astronomical level?
As the landowner has 3 houses on the development why were these house not repossessed and used to repay the debt much earlier?
Did the Bank enter into a scheme with the landowner, a scheme to dispossess the home owners?
There appears to be some confusion over who actually borrowed the money. The landowners name appears as the beneficiary on one document yet this is switched to the developer in another. The developer has testified he did not get the 83,000 TL, so whose bank account was this cheque finally cleared to?
There were many more questions too numerous to mention, but I think these give those not present the flavour. After Boysan's presentation, the Akfinans Lawyer Kursat asked for a recess to prepare his defence/rebuttal.
Mr Kursat opened his rebuttal by looking around to the packed courtroom and asked the Judges to ignore the large number of people in the Court as they were not victims. But merely supporters called out to intimidate the Judges. He said that the notion that people would be homeless was an exaggeration, he listed the Kulaksiz people not present as disinterested people whose loss of the houses would not be important, implying that they were rich and had more than one home, indeed one was even an investment rented out to visitors. Mr Kursat omitted to mention that for three of the home owners present this was their only home or that for some not present it was to be their only home once retired.
Mr Kusat said that none of the homeowners had valid contracts to the title of houses because the landowner had never consented to them having title. That the landowner has never agreed to the developer selling the houses. Mr Kursat did not mention that some of the owners have the developer and landowner signatures on their purchase contract.
With regard to ignoring Law 11/78 clauses on disclosure both to Land Registry and and the Courts, he said there was no attempt to mislead anyone. In defence he waved a December 2005 email from Richard Barclay, who was not present, complaining that his parents house was not completed yet. Mr Kursat omitted saying that at least two of the houses had people living in them at that time. So he summarised it was no attempt to ignore the law, possibly a clerical oversight.
He quoted from some obscure English law on Trusts to underpin his position.
The senior judge then pressed Mr Kursat on some issues. Had he prepared these documents and was he aware that they were untrue? Appeared to be answered with some prevarication. Then the question from the judge, was there any illegality here? Appeared to be more prevarication as Mr Kursat closed his rebuttal.
Then Mr Boyra quietly asked would Akifinans give a gentlemen's agreement in front of the the Judges not to attempt to sell any K5 property until all the K5 Group cases were completed. Mr Kursat said he could not give that undertaking. At which point the senior Judge interjected and said if Mr Boyra attended a Judges Chamber in 15 minutes an interim injunction preventing the sale of any K5 property until after all cases are completed would be granted.
The Appeal was adjourned until the Judgment with no date fixed yet. Mr Boyra and Bob French, the spokesman for K5 Group, obtained the formal interim injunction today and registered it at the Girne Court.
For those not in Court yesterday, they missed a very interesting day. We now look forward to the full Judgement with baited breath. Reports from Cypriots present said Mr Kursat appeared to be floundering and gave no credible answers to Mr Boyra's fusillade of forensic questions.
TODAY'S INTERIM INJUNCTION HAS TEMPORARILY STOPPED THE TIDE ON STEALTH MORTGAGE EVICTIONS. WE CAN ONLY HOPE THAT THE FINAL JUDGEMENT AND SCHEDULED HEARINGS WILL CONFIRM THAT THE TIDE HAS REALLY TURNED.
On behalf of K5 Group, Bob French has asked me to profusely thank all the organisations and people who are supporting them in this epic war on evictions and re-possessions.