Business World

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Man accused of defrauding AIB rubbed shoulders with royalty

Published 17/11/2012 | 05:00

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A FRAUDSTER accused of swindling Allied Irish Banks hosted the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker-Bowles, at one of his lavishly refurbished buildings, a London court has heard.

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Achilleas Kallakis rubbed shoulders with royalty at an opulent Mayfair house just a stone's throw from the US Embassy, the court was told.

He and co-defendant Alexander Williams are accused of defrauding Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Scotland out of more than £750m (€935m) in loans said to have been obtained using fake guarantees.

The Grosvenor Square property, which had once been the UK headquarters of cosmetics giant Revlon, was converted into a "spectacular" house which attracted plaudits from conservation groups, jurors heard.

It was bought in 2003 for £6m and sold in 2008 for £40m.

So successful was the conversion that Camilla (65) even paid a visit.

This led to the Hermitage Syndicated Trust, which bought the property and was allegedly advised by Mr Kallakis, becoming a donor to the Prince's Trust and led to a meeting between Prince Charles and Mr Kallakis which saw the pair photographed together.

Blood

Mr Kallakis told jurors of how he had "really sweated blood" over refitting the house.

Later, the court was also shown a snap of Mr Kallakis with former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Asked if the Iron Lady was "someone you knew", Mr Kallakis said "Yes."

Mr Kallakis also told jurors of his concerns at using guarantees from Hong Kong-based property firm SHKP amid fears this could lead to a repayment default.

Speaking of the guarantees, which are alleged to be fake, he said: "As a trust we had to be absolutely certain with this overseas company we don't really know.

"They are a business in Hong Kong – we didn't want to default on the bank repayments."

He also claimed that SHKP had wanted to keep quiet about their alleged alliance for political reasons after Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997.

He said: "The reason that we were given was that Hong Kong had been handed back over to the Chinese."

Mr Kallakis and Mr Williams both deny conspiracy to defraud, forgery, fraud by false representation, money laundering and obtaining a money transfer by deception.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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