Fraud office admits error in not seizing Kallakis servers
COMPUTER SERVERS at the Mayfair offices of an alleged £740 million fraudster disappeared after the authorities failed to seize them during a raid, a court heard.
Investigators from the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) raided the Mayfair headquarters of Achilleas Kallakis and Alexander Williams in March 2009, jurors were told.
However a “serious error” by the SFO wrongly saw the investigators seize an unplugged machine containing no data instead of the actual servers used by Mr Kallakis’s company, it was said. By the time the SFO investigators had realised their error, the servers could not be found, the court heard.
Mr Kallakis (44) and Mr Williams (44) are accused of swindling £740 million in fraudulent property loans from Allied Irish Bank.
Julia Ambler, an SFO investigator who was present for the raid in March 2009, told jurors at Southwark Crown Court yesterday that the SFO had made a mistake in not seizing the servers.
Asked by prosecutor Annabel Darlow if she originally believed the server had been seized, Ms Ambler said: “I understood that the server had been seized. It turned out to be incorrect.
“It turned out that the server that had been seized was a contact box from which we were unable to seize any material.”
She added: “The SFO admits that that was a serious error.”
Asked by Ms Darlow if the SFO had later managed to locate the overlooked servers, Ms Ambler answered: “No.”
Jurors heard how the SFO’s efforts to track down the servers were postponed after they were handed what they wrongly believed was a copy of the servers by a former member of staff of Mr Kallakis and Mr Williams.
Ms Ambler also told of her suspicions that documents had been shredded at the office of Mr Kallakis and Mr Williams before the SFO raid. “When we went into the buildings we found a lot of paper files that clearly had documents removed from them. There were no business records left. There was numerous quantities of shredded material.”
However when asked by George Carter-Stephenson QC, for Mr Kallakis, why she had not referred to the shredded material in any notes or during the previous trial, Ms Ambler conceded: “Maybe I am wrong.”
She added: “I just have a recollection of it – it just came into my head. It could just be that I am confusing it with material from another search, but I have a feeling there was shredded material.”
Earlier in the hearing Mike Wong, whose signature is alleged to have been faked on guarantees used to obtain property loans was asked about claims that Mr Kallakis and Mr Williams had used a fake SHKP seal.
Peter Caldwell, representing Mr Williams suggested to Mr Wong that the allegedly fake seal was “practically identical” to the official one.
Appearing via videolink from Hong Kong, Mr Wong answered: “There was a time in which I took a look at both the seal imprints and they were different. However, you had to pay much attention to distinguish the differences.”
Mr Wong, who told the court that he owned 200,000 shares in SHKP worth approximately £20 million, again said he had no knowledge of the company being involved in the UK property market after being contacted by AIB over fears they had been defrauded.
Mr Kallakis and Mr Williams deny charges of conspiracy to defraud, fraud, money laundering and obtaining a money transfer by deception.
The trial continues.