Gibraltar border queue

Gibraltar border queue

Forget traffic on the M25 or roadworks back in the UK.  Roadworks are a necessary evil of everyday life, traffic congestion from too many cars are just the normal everyday nightmare of the average commuter.

But can citizens back in the UK even begin to imagine the traffic jams here in Gibraltar and what causes them?  Below is a shot of the live runway with commuters queuing for hours to get out of Gibraltar for the weekend.  Delays by the spanish customs stopping every single car for as long as possible in retaliation to political protest from the UK and Gibraltar over the spanish incursion into UK waters on Thursday 25th July.

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Spanish patrol boat at the end of Gibraltar runway in UK waters

UK and Spanish authorities in stand off at the end of Gibraltar runway in UK waters

UK and Spanish authorities in stand off at the end of Gibraltar runway in UK waters

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Thursday”s incident

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Thursday’s incident

 

Drivers were forced to queue for hours in blistering heat yesterday as Spain tightened its border controls in the wake of the standoff at sea on Thursday.

The tailback hit Gibraltarians, Spaniards and tourists alike, forcing the Royal Gibraltar Police to recall personnel to implement diversions and beachside holding areas. The standstill came after British and Spanish diplomats exchanged words over Thursday’s events (photographed above by gibraltar-tourism.com) at sea in the Bay of Gibraltar.

A spokesman for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office confirmed Britain’s protest to Spain over the actions of Spanish Guardia Civil vessels at sea off the runway.

In turn, Spain’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs confirmed that its director general for foreign policy, Ignacio Ybáñez, had contacted Britain’s ambassador to Madrid, Giles Paxman, to complain about the reef and restate Spain’s position on the waters.

Last night a spokesman for the Convent said British officials in London and Madrid had pressed the Spanish government to take action to relieve the border queue.

“The state of delays at the border is of great concern,” the spokesman said.

“The Governor is personally in touch with the FCO and has urged that every effort is made to restore and maintain freedom of movement at the border.”

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo slammed the Spanish tactic of using the border to exert pressure on Gibraltar to the detriment of normal people.

“It’s a typical, childish reaction from Spain,” he said.

At 8.45pm last night, the queue snaked from the border all way to Catalan Bay, where the police had established holding areas. There was also gridlock on parts of Line Wall road and other main routes in the northern part of Gibraltar.

As the extent of the queues became evident late afternoon, the Gibraltar Government despatched a water bowser and ferried waters bottles to the border area.

Members of the Defenders of Gibraltar distributed water to the occupants of trapped vehicles.

The sweltering heat made the wait insufferable for those caught up in the traffic chaos.

“This is inexcusable,” said Marie, a Spanish woman from La Linea who spent four hours in the queue and at 8pm was still waiting at Catalan Bay.

“It’s absolutely horrible.”

The queues immediately began to generate international media interest and a furious response on social media. Tarik el Yabani captured the mood on Twitter.

“We ask, nay, DEMAND the British government fulfill its constitutional duties and defend Gibraltar,” he wrote.

“This is unacceptable in modern day Europe.”

The queues were caused by extreme checks by Guardia Civil officers at the border post.

For hour after hour, every single car was being stopped and pulled over by the Spanish officers. Motorbike riders were also being checked one at a time.

La Linea’s fishermen said they would claim compensation from the Spanish Government for the loss of a fishing ground off Gibraltar’s runway.

Leoncio Fernández, head of the La Linea fisherman’s guild, said the artificial reef had been laid “…with the knowledge of the Spanish authorities, which permitted it to happen.”

He added that Spanish authorities had failed to stop the reef-laying operation from going ahead, hence the compensation claim.

Quotes’s from Gibraltar Chronicle.

John Middleton – gibraltartourism@europe.com

 

Gibraltar UK warships

Gibraltar UK warships

Send us gunboats is the headline in the Express on 21st July 13, as Fabian Picardo calls for a greater presence of UK navy to protect Gibraltar, after the jetski incident.

Fabian Picardo in Casemates 29th June 2013, exclusive photo property of Gibraltar Tourism.

Fabian Picardo in Casemates 29th June 2013, exclusive photo property of Gibraltar Tourism.

As gibraltar-tourism.com rightly predicted in a previous article Mediterranean war – Gibraltar the call for an increase in UK military presence was inevitable, but what is the real reason behind it?

It will be interesting to see any official response from David Cameron to Mr Picardo’s plea in the days to come.  Either the UK will offer vocal support and sympathy and nothing else, or they will indeed send support, but if the latter will it be for protection of Gibraltarians against neighbouring and EU Spain, or will there be another subject on the adjenda?  Perhaps Russia, Syria, Cyprus …

At the same moment in time the Royal Navy takes receipt of the new Merlin helicopter fleet.  Interesting times.

Merlin

 

John Middleton – gibraltartourism@europe.com

LEMMA GIBRALTAR COLLAPSE MAY COST UK BODY £25M IN COMPENSATION

LEMMA GIBRALTAR COLLAPSE MAY COST UK BODY £25M IN COMPENSATION

new scotland yard

The Serious Fraud Office at Scotland Yard yesterday refused to confirm or deny “an interest” in the collapsed Gibraltar based insurance company Lemma Europe Insurance Company Limited.

It is alleged by media sources that Lemma has prompted some 800 claims and is estimated to cost the UK’s Financial Services Compensation Scheme some £25m, high enough to be one of the few cases singled out in the FSCS annual report. Just three years earlier the £1m paid out in relation to another insurance firm, Aldgate was highlighted.

Gibraltar firms chip in to the FSCS pot for compensation but a string of unrelated cases, some of them involving false bonds, have prompted the Gibraltar FSC to pressure locally based firms to meet more stringent standards not least in their auditing and justification of solvency levels. The estimated figure of £25m would mean the claim from Lemma would account for almost a third of the total claims made to the FSCS last year from collapsed insurance firms.

Lemma, which struggled for survival last year until the Supreme Court of Gibraltar found it bankrupt and ordered its provisional liquidation to proceed in December 2012, faces millions in claims, but initial investigations point to problems in the UK, not Gibraltar.

Last year the related Ukranian company, Lemma Ukraine, failed to bail out Lemma Europe but the case seems to be coming under increased scrutiny, including that of the Financial Services Commission in Gibraltar, as more details emerge that it had taken on a vast chunk of the “bottom end” of solicitors’ professional indemnity policies that were generally regarded as the very high risk end of the market.

Grant Thornton Gibraltar were appointed liquidators six months ago and their probe extends not only with Lemma but with the main conduits for its business including a firm called ‘Asset Underwriting’.

Lemma is registered in Gibraltar but provided domestic and commercial property and liability insurance in the UK. The firm had traded in the UK since January 2008 but the FSC removed its permissions in August 2012. The FSCS declared the firm in default in October 2012 and it says it has been working with the liquidators and their agents to manage the run-off of insurance claims against Lemma. “There are believed to be around 800 protected claims. The majority of these are solicitors’ professional indemnity claims. Current indications are that protected claims might cost in the region of £25m,” says the FSCS.

It was reported by the Chronicle last year that in 2009 -2010 Lemma Europe underwrote solicitors’ indemnity insurance but it was in February 2012 that the management advised its board that claims in this area had been £9m higher than expected.

That issue and the non-obtaining of funds to cover this appear to have set off the rapid spiral into a solvency crisis.

One major issue that emerged was just how Lemma came to be taking on almost one sixth of the UK’s total solicitors’ PI insurance. And also the fact that this was sold in UK by a UK Financial Conduct Authority (formerly FSA) licensed company.

Meanwhile, underwriting agency Asset France has gone into liquidation after its ultimate parent, Ukranian insurer Lemma, decided to pull its funding, www.insurancetimes.co.uk reported recently.

Insurance Times said it understands the agency was used by brokers in the United Kingdom and internationally.

FSC calls for tighter controls

 

At the end of May this year the Financial Services Commission Insurance Supervisor Michael Oliver wrote to all companies involved in insurance setting out the standards it expects companies to meet. This follows a similar drive, after the Hill Insurance collapse, to press for more stringent auditing.

The areas highlighted by Mr Oliver include: capital adequacy and whether the firms’ capital position is adequate to support the level of current and anticipated business activity given the exposure to risks; whether the firm has in place the necessary processes and policies to ensure that the appropriate level of reserves and provisions are maintained and that it is able to evaluate their adequacy and that they are maintained on an ongoing basis, in essence the FSC wants more independent validation of a firms information and justification if the firm strays from actuarial advice; risk management standards and controls and; corporate governance generally so as to establish that the firm is actually following procedures, not just paying lip service to them.

Sunborn floatel funded by Gibraltar government?

Sunborn floatel funded by Gibraltar government?

one thing is for certain, the Government of Gibraltar were the applicants in the planning application for works for the permanant docking station for Sunborn as can be seen below by their own planning application dated 18th April 2013 – see below from Gibraltar government records:

gib government apply for p consent for sunborn

The shadow government of Gibraltar have released the following statement:

The GSD Opposition has been pressing the Government for well over a month to confirm whether the Government has, directly or indirectly, entered into any financial arrangements in support of the Sunborn Floating Hotel.

sunborn latest

The first time the Leader of the Opposition brought the question before Parliament as to whether any loans had been provided, the Chief Minister told him that he would have to check the facts. Two weeks ago Mr Feetham asked the following question in Parliament (505/2013):

“Can the Chief Minister state whether the owners of the Sunborn Floating Hotel have had the benefit, either directly or indirectly, of financial assistance from the Government?”

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In his reply, the Chief Minister stated that “No financial assistance has been provided by the Government to the owners of the Sunborn Floating Hotel”.

In question 506/2013 Mr Feetham then asked whether the Chief Minister was “now in a position to state whether the owners of the Sunborn Floating Hotel have had the benefit of a soft loan from the Government and, if so, provide the details of the amount, and an outline of the terms of repayment and whether the proceeds of the loan will be drawn on the Consolidated Fund or the Gibraltar Savings Bank”.

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In his reply, the Chief Minister stated that “there is no soft loan from either the Government or the Gibraltar Savings Bank to the owners of the Sunborn Floating Hotel”.

The Chief Minister has repeatedly stated that the Sunborn was an entirely private venture which had nothing to do with the Government and had no Government involvement.

The Opposition has now obtained documents from Companies House that show that a Government and Gibraltar Savings Bank owned company, “Credit Finance Company Limited”, has the benefit of a mortgage secured on the Sunborn Gibraltar vessel.  The amount secured by the mortgage is ‘an unlimited amount’ in favour of Credit Finance Company Limited.

Picardo company

The facts are as follows.

On the 17 February 2012, the Government incorporated a company called Credit Finance Company Ltd with the registered Office at No 6 Convent Place.

The registered shareholders of that company are Gibraltar Investment (Holdings) Ltd and the Gibraltar Savings Bank.

The Gibraltar Savings Bank has invested in 289,425,000 shares of £1 each in Credit Finance Company Ltd.  That is very significant investment.

Gibraltar Investment (Holdings) Limited, in turn, is a wholly owned Government company and is used by the Government to fund other Government companies and projects.

The directors of Credit Finance Company Ltd are very senior Civil Servants.

A profile issued by Companies House on 1 July 2013 in relation to Sunborn (Gibraltar) Ltd, reveals that the company was incorporated on 12 March 2013 and that on 16 April 2013 it registered a mortgage for “an unlimited amount” in favour of Credit Finance Company Ltd.

companies house Gibraltar records

A search of the Register of Mortgage and Charge and of the Memorandum of Satisfaction of Sunborn (Gibraltar) Ltd reveals the mortgage in favour of Credit Finance Company Ltd relates to:

(1) All of Sunborn (Gibraltar) Limited’s right, title and interest (now or in the future) in the Floating Hotel vessel, the Sunborn Gibraltar.

(2) All of the company’s right, title and interest, present and future, in and to the assigned property meaning:

(A) all of the policies and contracts of insurance of the vessel set out in a deed of covenant, (which the Opposition have not seen); and

(B) all moneys or other compensation payable during the period that any obligations of Sunborn (Gibraltar) Limited under a loan agreement (which the Opposition has also not seen) remain outstanding.

It will be appreciated by the public that a mortgage is granted by a company or an individual over property as security for a loan or some other type of financial assistance provided by a lender.  Indeed, the Register of Mortgage and Charge and of the Memorandum of Satisfaction specifically refers to “the loan agreement”.

Daniel Feetham, Leader of the Opposition said: ‘The GSD Opposition is giving the Government an opportunity to explain the apparent discrepancy in the answers provided in Parliament by the Chief Minister and the information that emerges from the documentation available. On another level it would be a matter of grave concern if the Government were lending taxpayers’ or Gibraltar Savings Bank savers’ money to Sunborn (Gibraltar) Limited”.

The Government of Gibraltar has yet to comment as at 2nd July 2013

The Government of Gibraltar have fiercly denied any financial involvement with Sunborn Gibraltar as at 3rd July 2013