Court gives investors glimmer of hope

More than 1,000 Germans who bought life insurance policies from British firm Clerical Medial were given hope that promises they bought into could be kept, after a court ruled in favour of five who sued when the investment turned sour.

Court gives investors glimmer of hope
Photo: DPA

The five complainants had put hundreds of thousands of euros into the “Wealthmaster Nobel” insurance scheme – on the promise of eight percent return on their money, the German Supreme Court heard.

The idea was for the money to earn enough to pay out dividends every quarter year – and then for their initial investment to be repaid in full at the end of the agreed period. The interest earned was planned to generate funds for the investors as they aged.

But the scheme failed to work, and the quarterly payments ended up being taken from the invested capital, which shrank accordingly.

The court said on Wednesday that the contracts had been too optimistic and that had spoken of 8.5 percent returns – even though the firm itself had only felt six percent was realistic. This was not made clear enough for the customers, the court said. And there was no information that the invested capital was forming a reserve from which payments could be made to other investors.

But although the ruling is positive for the complainants, they cannot expect to get a payout immediately – the five test cases ruled on this week will have to be sent back to a lower court in Stuttgart for checks – and a decision must be made about the level of compensation.

Clerical Medical has also made an application to produce more evidence, saying those signing the contracts must have understood that the promised payments were not guaranteed, but that they depended on the performance of the money fund.

Wednesday’s ruling relates to five test cases – the Supreme Court has another 40 cases to hear, while there are more than 1,000 cases waiting to be heard across Germany.

DAPD/The Local/hc

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Woman on trial over killing spree at Potsdam care home

The trial began on Tuesday of a woman accused of stabbing four residents to death and severely injuring another at a German care home for disabled people where she worked outside Berlin.

Tributes laid where four people were killed at a care home in Potsdam.
Tributes laid where four people were killed at a care home in Potsdam. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Soeren Stache

Named as Ines Andrea R., the 52-year-old suspect is charged with four counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder following the bloodbath at the Thusnelda-von-Saldern-Haus facility in Potsdam, Brandenburg, in April.

The victims, two women and two men aged between 31 and 56, were found dead in their rooms after being stabbed with a knife, with police saying they had been subjected to “intense, extreme violence”.

Ines Andrea R. is also accused of trying to kill two further residents and of seriously injuring another, a woman aged 43.

She was detained immediately after the incident and placed in urgent psychiatric care due to what prosecutors described as “pertinent evidence” of severe mental illness.

Around 100 police officers were involved in recovering evidence at the scene.

READ ALSO: Women in custody over killings at Potsdam disabled home

The Thusnelda-von-Saldern-Haus, run by the Lutheran Church’s social welfare service, specialises in helping those with physical and mental disabilities, including blind, deaf and severely autistic patients.

It offers live-in care as well as schools and workshops.

Around 65 people live at the residence, which employs more than 80 people.

Germany has seen a number of high-profile murder cases from care facilities.

In the most prominent trial, nurse Niels Högel was sentenced in 2019 to life in prison for murdering 85 patients in his care.

READ ALSO: Missed chances: How Germany’s killer nurse got away with 85 murders

Högel, believed to be Germany’s most prolific serial killer, murdered patients with lethal injections between 2000 and 2005, before he was eventually caught in the act.

Last year, a Polish healthcare worker was sentenced to life in prison in Munich for killing at least three people with insulin.