Fraud defendant's past 'distorted'
The past of one of the two men accused of defrauding Allied Irish Banks out of £740 million (€908 million) has been “skewed and distorted”, a London court heard yesterday.
Alexander Williams and co-defendant Achilleas Kallakis are accused of defrauding AIB out of £740 million in property loans on the back of fake guarantees.
Mr Williams, who was jailed in the 1990s for forgery and passport offences, had pledged to turn over a new leaf after being imprisoned in his 20s and changing his name, Southwark crown court heard yesterday.
Mr Williams met his co-defendant at the University of Buckingham, where the pair became friends, before graduating in 1988.
Business with Kallakis
After leaving, Mr Williams, then known as Martin Lewis, set up a business with Mr Kallakis selling “lord of the manor” titles to wealthy Americans.
However, police discovered the fraudulent title business when they raided Mr Williams’ family home in relation to passport fraud. Mr Williams pleaded guilty to the “lord of the manor” forgery and the passport offences, the latter landing him in Bedford jail for a year.
Starting his closing speech, Peter Caldwell, representing Mr Williams, said the prosecution had led the jury down “a hall of mirrors” by “distorting” the picture of his client.
“These matters of foolishness, when Mr Williams was 22, tarnished his reputation. In prosecution, Victor Temple said Mr Williams was all about obtaining passports for Hong Kong businessmen.
“At that time, in the early ’90s, he had a girlfriend, she was from China. She could not return home and she had to stay here. Acting for his girlfriend, who was in dire straits, he makes an application on her behalf and another one which went to another person related to her.
“There is a character that is not sinister, not of suspect actions, not motivated by greed, but to help someone in need.
“Mr Williams in 1995 was on the verge of moral and psychological collapse.”
Referring to his change of name, Mr Caldwell told the court how Mr Williams took the decision to make a “fresh start” after his previous convictions.
“He wanted to make a fresh start, but in 1997 he decided to change his name back.”
Mr Caldwell told the court how Mr Williams clearly did not make any big financial gain from his dealings and how he was not in the same league as Mr Kallakis when it came to finances.
“Mr Williams got a good salary. But referring to Mr Temple’s point that he followed money – you will not find that trail leading to Mr Williams’ door,” he said.
“His money was largely invested in the trust. He has no house in London to his name, he has no glamorous car. He has nothing of that kind.”
Mr Kallakis and Mr Williams, both 44, are accused of creating fraudulent guarantees to get inflated property loans from AIB, buy the properties, and then use surplus cash to fund a lifestyle of luxury.
The pair are also accused of defrauding Bank of Scotland, part of the HBOS group, of €29 million to convert a passenger ferry into a “superyacht”.
Both deny conspiracy to defraud, forgery, fraud by false representation, money laundering and obtaining a money transfer by deception.
The trial continues.