Irish

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Kallakis tells jury of AIB's 'attempt at blackmail' over loans

Published 22/11/2012|05:00

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FURIOUS bosses at crisis-hit AIB stormed into the Mayfair offices of an alleged fraudster and demanded £314m (€390m) within 24 hours, a court heard.

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Senior staff at AIB demanded the huge sum from Achilleas Kallakis after discovering guarantees he had used to obtain £740m (€920m) in property loans were fake, it was said.

Mr Kallakis, and his co-defendant Alexander Williams, both 44, are accused of defrauding AIB of £740m in property loans.

Mr Kallakis told jurors yesterday he was "stunned" to discover that the guarantees, made in the name of Chinese estate agent Sun Hun Kai Properties (SHKP), weren't real.

He told Southwark Crown Court that the sum demanded was more than the £300m (€373m) market value of the ailing bank at the time and accused AIB of "legalised blackmail."

The alleged fraudster also launched a blistering attack on AIB's "highly aggressive" and "uncompromising" attitude during the crisis meeting in September 2008.

Mr Kallakis even claimed AIB's loans on Irish assets were "crap", insisting that the prestigious property portfolio, held in a trust whose beneficiaries were his children, was "the jewel in (AIB's) crown".

George Carter-Stephenson QC, representing Mr Kallakis, asked his client what he understood AIB's position to be around the time of the meeting.

He replied: "They were in such dire straits that they had to go to the Irish Government to bail them out.

"They were two to three hours away from having to close their doors. I was aware of it from the media – we were also tracking their share price and capital value. We noticed that at one point the capital value of the bank was about £300m."

Revealing the demands then made by AIB and its solicitor, Duncan Aldred, Mr Kallakis said: "We understood it would be £314m that AIB requested to be sent to them within 24 hours.

"That was more than the bank was worth at that time so that was highly unrealistic."

Mr Kallakis also told jurors that he found it "inconceivable" that the guarantees were fake, given they had been examined by up to seven sets of lawyers, including four working for AIB.

Asked about the attitude of AIB and Mr Aldred during the meeting, Mr Kallakis said: "They came in with a very aggressive attitude. You cannot come into someone's office and say, 'Bring me £300m tomorrow'. That is blackmail."

Mr Kallakis also attacked the "conniving" behaviour of AIB in selling the portfolio to Green Property Group for £650m (€808m) – half of what he claimed it could have fetched.

He called the price "ridiculously low" and said the terms of the sale would have been "a dream come true" for investors.

And he added that the deal, which saw AIB receive 35pc of any profits made, would have netted the bank "an absolute fortune", adding: "They have made no loss whatsoever."

The trial continues.

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