Tuesday 16 January 2018

AIB boss failed to record junket he took from 'tycoon'

Shane Hickey in London

A FORMER high-level member of AIB management has admitted he did not properly record a three-day junket he took from a man who has subsequently been accused of defrauding the bank in a £740m (€850m) scam.

David McWilliam, who was the head of corporate banking at AIB (UK) until his retirement in 2009, yesterday said he should have officially written down the trip to Mauritius on the bank's books, as per procedure, but did not do so.

He was brought there in 2007 by Achilleas Kallakis, a supposed Greek shipping tycoon, who is currently facing 23 charges of fraud, forgery and money laundering, amongst others, along with his business partner Alexander Williams.

The two men borrowed £740m (€850m) for 16 different landmark property deals between 2003 and 2008, allegedly based on false documentation.

Staff from the London property lending team of AIB were treated to a series of trips over this period, including ones to the World Cup final in Berlin and to the Monaco Grand Prix.

Mr McWilliam went to Mauritius with Mr Kallakis when the alleged shipping tycoon wanted to say "thank you" for work put in on a property deal.

In Southwark Crown Court in London yesterday, the former banker said he told an internal AIB investigation about the trip in 2009 but it had not been written down as was general practice.

Any "hospitality" worth over £300 or €500 would usually go into the bank records or be approved by a line manager, he told the court. "I should have put it in formal writing," he said.

Mr Kallakis and Mr Williams are accused of using forged documents -- including letters attesting to their wealth -- to dupe the bank into loans for properties in some of London's most salubrious addresses.

Falsely claiming they had a listed Hong Kong real estate group as their guarantor, the pair convinced AIB to lend them more than the properties' purchase prices, it was claimed.

Mr McWilliam said the issue came to light in 2008. He confronted Mr Kallakis in an unannounced visit to his Mayfair office. Mr McWilliam said Mr Williams was "very scared". This was the last time he saw Mr Kallakis.

AIB seized the properties after the issue came to light and sold them to an Irish property company, Green Property. The bank made a loss of £56m (€64m) on the loans.

The trial is due to continue today.

See business, Page 48

Irish Independent

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