Business World

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Kallakis denies he stood to gain personally in £740m fraud case

Shane Hickey in London

courts

A BUSINESSMAN accused of masterminding a £740m (€890m) fraud against AIB has claimed he did not stand to personally gain from a series of high-profile property deals in the heart of London.

Achilleas Kallakis (43) yesterday told a court that he was the chief adviser to a trust for his children which benefited from the purchase of a portfolio of 16 properties between 2003 and 2008.

Mr Kallakis and his business partner Alexander Williams deny 23 charges including conspiracy to defraud, fraud, forgery and obtaining a money transfer by deception.

The pair are accused of using forged guarantees from a reputable Hong Kong property company -- Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) -- to secure loans totalling £740m from AIB.

A number of witnesses have told the trial at Southwark Crown Court that Mr Kallakis was the front figure in all of the property transactions.

However, yesterday he told the court he was the "chief adviser" to Hermitage Syndicated Trust, which was set up for his children.

All of the benefits from the property dealings were to the trust, he said, and he was paid a fee for his services.

Yesterday was the first day in what is expected to be a lengthy stint in the witness box for Mr Kallakis.

In April 1995, he pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit forgery in relation to the sale of honorary titles.

Shortly after, he changed his name from Kollakis, the family name, to Kallakis.

The court heard how his extended family had been involved in the shipping industry. He had worked for the family business as well as pursuing his own commercial interests. In 1996, a large part of the family moved back to Greece from London following an investigation by the Inland Revenue.

The allegations against Mr Kallakis and Mr Williams arose in 2008 and AIB subsequently took over the properties and sold them to Green Property, an Irish firm, at a loss of £56m.

This loss was not completely covered by the insurance policy in place at the time.

The purchase by Green Property was 100pc financed by AIB through non-recourse loans secured on the properties and with no reliance on individual shareholders.

During the five-year period when the two accused men were dealing with AIB, staff from the London property lending team were treated to a series of trips away, including to the World Cup.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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