Business World

Thursday 23 March 2017

Kallakis fraud trial delay as new documents emerge

Accused deny using forged guarantees to secure loans totalling £740m from AIB

Shane Hickey , in London

THE trial of two men accused of masterminding a £740m (€850m) fraud against AIB has been substantially delayed following the emergence of new documentation.

Between 6,000 and 7,000 pages of fresh material has to be examined in the case of Achilleas Kallakis and Alexander Williams, meaning the London-based trial may not be finished until early February.

The two men are accused of using forged guarantees from a reputable Hong Kong property company -- Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) -- to secure loans totalling £740m for properties between 2003 and 2008.

Both deny the charges. Yesterday, Judge Andrew Goymer told the jury in Southwark Crown Court that documentation had become available from a Swiss court in relation to the case and this had to be examined by the defence barristers.

Some of the material that had been released was in Italian, he told the jury, and the study of it would create a substantial delay.

As a result, there is a possibility that the trial, which started in September, may run until February.

Mr Kallakis, who is said to have portrayed himself as a Greek shipping magnate when taking out the loans from AIB, intends to give evidence in the case.

Before he gave this evidence, he had to look at the new material, the judge said.

It is possible that Mr Kallakis may not now take the stand until January 9.

The judge asked the members of the jury how they felt about the inconvenience but they indicated they were happy to continue.

He said he was "full of admiration" for the way they had undertaken their role as jurors.

Mr Kallakis and Mr Williams have pleaded not guilty to 23 charges of fraud, forgery and money laundering, among others.

They are accused of falsely claiming SHKP as their guarantor for the loans, a crucial part of the financing deal from the bank, which in turn raised the value of the lands and buildings.

AIB was told in the middle of 2008 by SHKP that they did not know anything of the guarantees.

The bank seized the property portfolio after the issue came to light and sold them to an Irish property company, Green Property, at a loss of £56m (€64m).

An insurance policy taken out by AIB to cover potential frauds did not fully repay the bank for the loss.

Irish Independent

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