Sunday 26 January 2020

Hong Kong tycoon denies knowing accused

Shane Hickey London

ANOTHER senior executive from one of the biggest property companies in the world has said he has no knowledge of two men accused of large-scale fraud against AIB after loans were given out on apparent guarantees provided by the land giant.

Billionaire Mike Wong, deputy managing director of Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) in Hong Kong, told a jury he had never done business with Achilleas Kallakis or Alexander Williams.

The two men took out loans totalling €920m from AIB between 2003 and 2008 to buy high-end properties across the UK using rent guarantees apparently from SHKP.

Both men deny 23 fraud charges in relation to the loans, which are said to have been obtained using forged papers.

SHKP is the second-biggest property company in the world and employs 20,000 people in Hong Kong where it owns some of the most notable buildings.

Mr Wong said a series of signatures on documents which purport to be his were not, and he had no knowledge of the properties bought by the men.

Richest

He is the second senior executive from SHKP to say the guarantees that Mr Kallakis and Mr Williams used had nothing to do with the company.

Under the guarantees, rents on the properties were secured for lengthy periods.

AIB executives have told the jury in the case that the guarantees were vital in securing the financing, and they would not have made commercial sense had the guarantees not been in place.

Mr Wong told Southwark Crown Court via video link yesterday that SHKP had not been involved with any UK property transactions.

The only time he had seen documents connecting the company and the two accused was when he was shown them by AIB staff and officers from the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Senior members of AIB flew to Hong Kong in September 2008 when questions arose about the guarantees. They were told SHKP had not issued any rent guarantees.

Mr Wong said the company had "no knowledge at all of these documents" when questioned.

Former SHKP chairman and chief executive Walter Kwok told the jury the rent guarantees were forgeries.

The family corporation is said to be one of the richest in Asia, with a value of some €12.4bn.

Irish Independent

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