Tuesday 26 September 2017

Fraud suspect introduced AIB to bank which blew whistle on alleged scam

Shane Hickey

A MAN accused of masterminding a multi-million euro fraud against AIB himself introduced the bank to another financial institution which instigated a chain of events leading to the collapse of the alleged scam.

It emerged yesterday that Achilleas Kallakis brought executives from AIB and the Helaba bank together but that the German group later raised questions over his background.

Mr Kallakis and his business partner, Alexander Williams, both deny 23 charges of fraud and money laundering, amongst others, in relation to €920m worth of loans they took out with AIB between 2003 and 2008.

The pair -- who bought high-end properties across the UK -- are said to have falsified rent guarantees from a reputable Hong Kong property company to secure the loans.

The allegations emerged in 2008 after which AIB took over the properties and sold them to Green Property, an Irish firm.

Yesterday Michael Ryan, the head of business management in AIB corporate banking, said the Irish bank had been in discussions with Helaba in 2008 with a view to spreading some of the Kallakis loans. AIB wanted to reduce the amount of debt it was exposed to.

Conspiracy

Helaba told AIB about information regarding Mr Kallakis's past. The jury in the case has been told how, in 1995, then under the names Kollakis and Lewis, the two defendants had both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit forgery in a case involving the sale of bogus honorary titles to Americans.

Mr Ryan said the bank confirmed the information as true and decided to check with Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) as to the validity of the rent guarantees they had been given by Mr Kallakis.

The Hong Kong property giant denied all knowledge of the guarantees, just a few weeks before the Irish government announced the bank guarantee scheme in September 2008.

Under questioning by George Carter-Stephenson, for Mr Kallakis, Mr Ryan confirmed that the businessman had initially introduced AIB to Helaba.

The men are said to have been aided by Michael Becker, a Swiss lawyer, who is not facing trial.

Mr Ryan said he and two other senior AIB executives had travelled to Switzerland unannounced after the allegations emerged to try and find Mr Becker but with no success.

When the sites were sold to Green Property in November, the market was in a state of panic, he said, following the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

The trial is due to continue tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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