AIB fraud case collapses
A PROPERTY tycoon at the centre of an alleged £740 million fraud in London against Allied Irish Bank will face a retrial after his co-defendant was too unwell to continue.
The multimillion pound trial at Southwark Crown Court of Achilleas Kallakis and Alexander Williams has been “bedevilled by delays”, including a juror being dismissed for work reasons then the ill health of Mr Williams.
Yesterday it was brought to a halt with a retrial for both men scheduled for September.
Mr Kallakis (43) and Mr Williams (43) are accused of conning the bank into paying £740 million for high-profile properties by fraudulently claiming Mr Kallakis was in control of a billion-pound property empire.
The Serious Fraud Office alleged that Mr Kallakis and Mr Williams persuaded Allied Irish Bank over five years to loan the cash on 16 property transactions to companies under their control. The bank suffered a loss of £56 million.
The pair denied two counts of conspiracy to defraud, 13 counts of forgery, five counts of fraud by false representation, two counts of money-laundering and one count of obtaining a money transfer by deception.
However Mr Kallakis’s evidence had to be halted last week after Mr Williams was taken ill leading to delays, which meant jurors heard just four days of evidence in 15 court days.
The case was originally expected to be finished by Christmas.
Dismissing the jurors, Judge Andrew Goymer said it would not be reasonable to expect them to sit into a fifth month.
“This case, as you know, has been bedevilled by a whole series of delays. Members of the jury, I regret to tell you I have come to the conclusion that this trial is no longer manageable in its present form before you.
“That is not any criticism of you, each and every one of you has struggled valiantly to do your duty as jurors in this case. Last week, as you know, Mr Williams was admitted to hospital. I have received a report from a doctor who examined him on Saturday.
“Without burdening you with all the details, the doctor’s conclusion is he would have to remain in hospital for a period of two or three weeks before he would be fit enough to resume his part in the trial.
“That doctor’s prognosis is not an absolute guarantee and we do not know where we would be at the end of that time.
“You agreed to act as jurors on the basis that this case would be finished by Christmas. I’m afraid that won’t be the case. This case will have to be retried before another jury.”
Judge Goymer added that all members of the jury would be granted exemption from any future jury service in their lifetime.
He added: “I stress that is a reward, not a punishment.”
A retrial has been set for September 10th.
During the course of the trial, the court was told that AIB was desperate to lend Mr Kallakis £750 million to fund his expansive British property portfolio. AIB “constantly” put pressure on him to find new deals it could help finance, he said.
In the end, AIB invested in 16 “high-profile” buildings with Mr Kallakis, but when his property empire collapsed, the bank lost £56 million (€67 million).
Prosecutors alleged the pair forged documents for rent guarantors and misrepresented who would be the beneficiaries of the loans. Mr Kallakis claims he had secured the loans and was acting as a chief adviser for a family trust.
He claims the trust’s sole beneficiaries were his children and that it was controlled by Swiss lawyer Michael Becker. However prosecutors allege he exaggerated his personal wealth and forged guarantee agreements to secure the money.
Mr Kallakis said the bank was so “desperate” to get deals done during the height of the property boom that it made a number of “incorrect assumptions” about his circumstances without his knowledge.