Tuesday 21 November 2017

Kallakis trial collapses as defendant hospitalised

Shane Hickey in London

A RETRIAL has been ordered in the case of two men accused of masterminding a £740m (€888m) fraud against AIB after one of the defendants was admitted to hospital.

The jury in the case of Achilleas Kallakis and Alexander Williams (both 43), was yesterday discharged from duties after over four months of hearings.

A retrial date has now been set for September.

Both men had denied 21 charges including conspiracy to defraud, fraud, forgery, money laundering and obtaining a money transfer by deception.

The pair were accused of using forged guarantees from a reputable Hong Kong property company -- Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) -- to secure loans totalling £740m from AIB between 2003 and 2008 for a series of property deals.

The high-profile trial which was being heard in Southwark Crown Court in London had been beset by delays, most notably when some 8,000 pages of fresh evidence became available before Christmas.

Yesterday, Judge Andrew Goymer told the jury that the trial was "no longer manageable in its present form".

He said Mr Williams had been admitted to hospital last week and that a doctor's report indicated he would have to remain there for between two and three weeks before he was fit to resume the trial -- and that his return after this period was not an absolute guarantee.

The judge said that he had considered discharging Mr Williams and continuing the case against Mr Kallakis but that this was not realistic and may have resulted in Mr Williams appearing as a witness in the case.


There was no guarantee of when he would be available to give evidence, the court heard.

The jury was initially told when the case started last September that it would have ended by Christmas.

After the jury was discharged, they were given exemptions from serving again for life. The retrial has been set for September 10.

The UK's Serious Fraud Office, which brought the charges against the two men, alleged they used a collection of false documents to say they had guaranteed rental incomes even if no tenants were in the buildings they wanted to buy.

After the allegations against the two men emerged, AIB took over their property portfolio and sold the high-end addresses to Green Property, an Irish firm, at a loss of £56m (€64m).

During the five-year period when the two accused men were dealing with AIB, staff from the London property lending team were treated to a series of trips away, including to the World Cup final in Berlin and to the Monaco Grand Prix.

Irish Independent

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