Business Irish

Sunday 17 December 2017

Financier accused of €920m fraud is 'decent family man', court told

Shane Hickey London

A businessman accused of masterminding a €920m fraud against AIB has been described to a jury as a "good, decent family man" who should be found not guilty of a raft of charges against him.

The jury in the case of Achilleas Kallakis and Alexander Williams, who both deny 23 fraud and money-laundering charges related to a series of property deals, has been told that Mr Kallakis is a low-key individual who enjoys take-aways at home and giving money to charity.

The two men are said to have used false rental guarantees from a reputable Hong Kong property company to secure a series of loans to buy high-end UK properties between 2003 and 2008.

Yesterday Mr Kallakis's counsel, George Carter-Stephenson QC, told Southwark Crown Court that the "other side" of his client, away from his public image of enjoying a lavish lifestyle, was best described by one of the witnesses who said "he ate at the local Indian restaurant, enjoyed a takeaway at home and watched football from the terraces".

The prosecution has alleged that the two men used money from the property deals to live a luxurious lifestyle which featured private jets, exclusive parties and the use of yachts off Monaco.

The lengthy court case, which began in September, is in its final stages with closing arguments being presented by both sides.

Mr Carter-Stephenson said any lavish spending was connected with his client's business life, "oiling the wheels" for the trust that the defence has claimed was the beneficiary of the property deals.

The trust is said to have benefited the Kallakis children while Mr Kallakis only acted as a consultant to it.

A private jet, which was used by Mr Kallakis, was only once used for a personal trip to see a soccer match, and this was paid for by the businessman, said Mr Carter-Stephenson.

The case is "simple", he said, and his client was the one who had given the most truthful account of what happened.

After the allegations came to light in September 2008, AIB took over the property portfolio and sold it on to Green Property, an Irish firm, in the understanding the bank would share in the profits of future sales.

Mr Kallakis has "a degree of anger and resentment" at the bank, said Mr Carter-Stephenson, for taking over the assets, and maintains executives ignored any solutions he put forward to the problem.

A previous "brush with the law" – when he was convicted in relation to selling fake titles to Americans – had made Mr Kallakis do everything by the book, he said.

The defence claims AIB deliberately falsified documents in the case after its dealings with Mr Kallakis in order "to create a false picture" of what had happened at the time.

"In our submission, there is only one true verdict and that is the verdict we invite you to return – not guilty on both counts," Mr Carter-Stephenson told the jury.

The case continues today.

Irish Independent

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