Friday 24 October 2014

Fraudsters funded lavish lifestyles with AIB's money

Shane Hickey London

Published 17/01/2013 | 05:00

TWO friends who lived like multi-millionaires during a sophisticated €920m fraud against AIB have been told they will go to jail when they are sentenced today.

Achilleas Kallakis and Alexander Williams, both 44, were found guilty in London yesterday of using fake documents to secure 16 loans to buy high-end properties across the UK between 2003 and 2008.

The verdict marks the end of a four-month trial which heard how Kallakis used the proceeds of his fraud to fund a fleet of chauffeur-driven Bentleys, a private plane and helicopter, a luxury yacht moored in Monaco harbour and a collection of high-value art works.

He and Williams treated AIB staff to junkets during the elaborate fraud, including a trip to the 2006 World Cup final in Berlin and a "thank-you" excursion to Mauritius at the end of a deal.

The loss to AIB was more than £56m (€67.5m)

The transactions were structured in a way that the bank loans exceeded the purchase price of the properties, using forged guarantees supposedly from a well-established Hong Kong company, Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited (SHKP).

Kallakis and Williams were able to maintain the deception over five years through skillful forgeries and manipulation of AIB. When in 2007 the bank requested a meeting with a representative of SHKP, Kallakis and Williams set up a meeting at their offices with an individual who pretended to be from the SHKP Treasury Department.

The loans advanced by AIB represented £60m in excess of the cost of the properties.

Alarm bells only rang at AIB in August 2008 after a German bank discovered that the two men had previous convictions for trying to sell titles to Americans and had subsequently changed their names.

Forgery

Kallakis had a fraud conviction in the name of Stefanos Michalis Kollakis.

Williams also had previous convictions, under the name of Martin Lewis, for four offences of deception in relation to obtaining false passports.

His forgery skills contributed to the execution of the fraud against the banks, the serious fraud office added.

A third person, a Swiss lawyer and businessman, is also alleged to have conspired with the defendants.

The UK fraud office claims he was closely involved in the fraud and was director of companies presented to the banks in the loan agreements as "borrowing companies".

As he is a Swiss national, he has not been charged due to his absence from the jurisdiction.

Yesterday, Judge Andrew Goymer warned Kallakis and Williams that a prison sentence was "inevitable" due to the nature of the offences.

Irish Independent

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