AIB'S PROPERTY-LENDING policies were far more aggressive in Ireland during the peak of the boom than in the heart of the worldwide financial system in London, a court has heard.
A former senior staff member of the bank yesterday gave an insight into the "heady days" before the recession in the English capital, when the bank was rapidly expanding its loan book to a host of international investors.
Michael Cooke, who was hired in 1999 to find new customers, said Irish lending practices in the property market were far more aggressive in Dublin than what was allowed in London.
In England, it was usual to lend up to 75pc of the value of the property -- in the case where the site had a leased tenant on it.
However, in Ireland, lenders would give out up to 95pc of the value of the property and could extend to 100pc in instances where land was being acquired.
His comments came at the latest day of the trial of Achilleas Kallakis and Alexander Williams, who are accused of orchestrating an elaborate scheme to take out €920m worth of loans from AIB between 2003 and 2008 using false documentation.
Both have pleaded not guilty of 23 charges of fraud and money laundering, amongst others, in relation to the 16 loans which bought some prime UK properties.
Mr Cooke, a senior member of the lending team which dealt with the loans, told Southwark Crown Court that the years between 2004 and 2006 were the most aggressive for the bank and that profit margins were reduced as a result of competition.
Until the alleged fraud was discovered in 2008, Mr Kallakis had risen to become one of the bank's biggest customers.
Mr Cooke said senior members of the bank including Colm Doherty -- then CEO of capital markets and later chief executive of the bank -- and Jerry McCrohan, then head of global corporate banking, flew over to meet with Mr Kallakis.
There had been no reason for him to question the loans, Mr Cooke said.
The trial is due to continue today.