ONE of two men accused of defrauding AIB out of £740m (€916m) had pledged to turn over a new leaf after being imprisoned in his 20s and changing his name, a court heard yesterday.
Alexander Williams and co-defendant Achilleas Kallakis are accused of defrauding AIB out of £740m in property loans on the back of fake guarantees. Both deny the charges.
Giving evidence, Mr Williams told Southwark Crown Court that he met his co-defendant at the University of Buckingham where the pair became friends, before graduating in 1988.
After leaving, Mr Williams, then known as Martin Lewis, set up a business to help Japanese students study in Britain, and together with Mr Kallakis began selling "lord of the manor" titles to wealthy Americans, the court heard.
However, police discovered the fraudulent title business when they raided Mr Williams' family home in relation to passport fraud, which Mr Williams said related to applying for a passport for his Chinese girlfriend and two of her relatives.
He said he applied for the passports using a dead person's name, an idea he had gleaned from the movie 'Day Of The Jackal'.
"There was a chap who had applied for a passport in the name of somebody who had died, so I did the same thing the person did in the film," he said.
"At the time nothing really had much seriousness to me. I was living with my parents.
"If I did something wrong someone would tell me off and that was it. In this case I did something very wrong and it destroyed my life at the time."
Mr Williams pleaded guilty to the lord of the manor forgery and the passport offences, the latter landing him in Bedford prison for a year.
He said he subsequently changed his name, first to Oliver Lewis then to Alexander Martin Williams in order to get a fresh start.
"I was going to change everything in my life and do things properly this time," Mr Williams said.
The court heard that after a number of jobs, including selling computers and a stint living in Italy, Mr Williams began to help Mr Kallakis in renovating property and working with him at an online insurance company.
Mr Williams said he then became more involved in the property buying side of Mr Kallakis' business.
Mr Williams told how, with the help of a business associate, David Nicholson, he was made responsible for sourcing contacts in Hong Kong who would be able to introduce them to big companies which would act as overriding lease holders to guarantee bigger loans for property deals.
He was eventually put in touch with the "well-connected" Hong Kong businessman Richard Lee, who said he could secure Sun Hung Kai Properties to guarantee the loan.
The court also heard that Williams secured a reference from Lord Harris, who he knew personally, but used his own address on the reference because Lord Harris was not keen to put his home address.
The trial continues.