Wednesday 29 January 2020

Fraudsters who conned AIB out of €920m have sentences increased

UK Court of Appeal changes original jail terms for pair's elaborate property fraud

Shane Hickey London

TWO fraudsters who orchestrated an elaborate €920m fraud against AIB have had their sentences increased after an appeal court found their initial jail terms were too lenient.

Achilleas Kallakis (44), the mastermind of an elaborate property fraud, was sentenced in January to seven years' prison while his business partner Alex Williams (44) got five years.

Yesterday it was announced that Kallakis will now serve 11 years while Williams gets eight years following a decision by the Court of Appeal in London.

The pair used fake documentation to secure loans mainly from AIB and Bank of Scotland over a five-year period.

A jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty against the two men of conspiracy to commit fraud related to the loans which were taken out between 2003 and 2008.

The UK Attorney General's Office referred the sentences to the Court of Appeal, claiming they were unduly lenient.

The Court of Appeal said the fraud against AIB was on a "truly massive scale" and said the judge in the case was "generous" to the pair when he concluded that the fraud was not in the most serious category.

Rehabilitate

At the core of the fraud had been the use of fake guarantees from a reputable Hong Kong property firm which were used to take out the loans from AIB at the peak of the boom.

The trial judge said that Kallakis and Williams had made some efforts to rehabilitate themselves and made allowances for problems with physical and mental health.

However, the Court of Appeal rejected this decision.

"In our judgment, there was no significant personal mitigation available to the offenders. They had committed fraudulent offences together on a previous occasion and Williams had served a custodial sentence for passport offences. We are doubtful whether any discount from the starting point was appropriate," said yesterday's judgment.

The decision was welcomed by the Solicitor General, Oliver Heald.

"We are pleased that the court agreed that consecutive sentences were required to reflect the fact that two separate banks fell victim to the offenders," he said.

The Kallakis and Williams trials – the first one was abandoned – took place over 17 months and laid out details of the lending culture in AIB at the peak of the boom, including details of a series of junkets which staff went on, paid for by Kallakis.

Jet

During the fraud, Kallakis lived the life of a multi-millionaire, maintaining a series of high-end cars, a private jet and helicopter and a yacht moored off the coast of Monaco.

While he acted as the frontman in the scam, Williams was the talented forger who faked the documents which were used to dupe the banks.

Irish Independent

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