Francisco Guerrero, 68, has the date of December 14, 2005 engraved on fire. That day, this bricklayer born in Barbate (Cádiz) and resident in Castellón for more than five decades earned 6.47 million euros in the Bonoloto. That day, too, his misfortune began. Guerrero, “the happiest man in the world” up to that moment, put all the money in the hands of a Santander employee who recommended that he fully invest the money in financial products that turned out to be toxic.. The award-winning, self-employed worker and absolutely layman on investment matters lost not only the money but also all the property he had managed to raise in a lifetime of work. The Provincial Court of Castellón held this Thursday the civil trial of the lawsuit of Guerrero and his family against the bank, the fourth process of a 14-year judicial journey. “I am dead alive,” he repeats over and over.
That December 14, Francisco Guerrero knew he was a millionaire when he got home from work. “I thought the prize was pesetas, because the amount was escaping me in euros,” he admits. Joy turned impotence just two years later, by chance and without having tasted the prize. “[The Santander employee] told me that the money there would be in a good place, that it was a fixed term without risk and they were going to give me 17%, I didn’t even know what it was. I trusted blindly and they destroyed my life ”, she 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 on three occasions. “I have won all three trials with the truth,” he says. The last one is just two weeks ago. In 2016 and 2018, two 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 that the debts generated by the toxic products have taken everything recovered, since he guaranteed the purchase of those products with their properties, which were mortgaged “at a time when he was solvent,” says his legal representative.
Now it faces the last phase of the process, with which it exhausts the civil route. He claims more than two million euros for another part of the investments made and which he also lost. Depending on the sentence, says their legal representative, they will resort to criminal proceedings.
The economic consequences (“I live as a ‘squat’ in my own house”, as I have not been able to meet the mortgage payments on the house, located in a small town in Castellón), are joined by those that have undermined his health. He suffers from depression and a chronic generalized anxiety disorder that is triggered by the banking conflict, according to the psychiatric report that accompanies the latest lawsuit. “I am in psychological treatment; I’m sick. I don’t deserve it ”, incidences.
As recorded in the last favorable judgment, issued by the Court of First Instance of Castellón on February 26, and which condemns Banco Santander to return around 163,000 euros to Guerrero and two of his daughters for damages, after winning the draw de la Bonoloto the money was deposited in Barclays Bank . “Due to the bank’s mismanagement, the accounts were transferred to Banco Santander Central Hispano in January 2007, and in March 2007 the total transfer occurred.”
Francisco Guerrero, without studies and “totally ignorant in financial matters” —the sentences affirm— invested 6.5 million euros in Banco Santander in what he believed to be risk-free time deposits but instead hired toxic products high risk, which not only made him lose everything invested, but also generated debts. According to the two previous rulings and favorable to the victim, the plaintiffs were not informed of the risks that these products could entail, “relying at all times on the information provided by the bank.” They claim that there was no pre-contractual information, nor was the plaintiffs’ investment profile determined.
“I have not 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 make you a work, but I don’t know anything about banks, ”insists Guerrero. It was not until two years later that Francisco learned that the award had disappeared without even passing through his hands. Despite becoming a millionaire overnight, he continued to work as a bricklayer, parking the prize in what he believed to be a safe place. It was as a result 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 hurries his last cartridge. “We are fighting and claiming all the damage that I have, because I am ruined, dead in life. And to see if Banco Santander pays for the damage it has done to me. I trust the judges, the justice. This trial I have to win because I deserve it, “he says. Nostalgia invades him when he looks back. When I worked as a sailor, in the field, the hotel or bricklayer. Until setting up a small reform company. “I have the lottery and that has been my death. They have taken away my house, the land I had from working on the construction site, life… what else do they want to take from me? ”
“It is not good what they have done to me, no. Before I was happy. The happiest in the world ”, he concludes.