Hong Kong boss says signatures were forged
A SECOND BOSS at a top Hong Kong property firm has denied knowing two men accused of committing a £740 million (€920 million) fraud in his name, a court heard.
Mike Wong, deputy managing director at estate agency Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) told jurors he had never met or done business with alleged fraudsters Achilleas Kallakis or Alexander Williams.
Mr Williams and Mr Kallakis are accused of forging Mr Wong’s name on property guarantees and other documents in order to scam Allied Irish Banks out of £740 million in property loans.
Yesterday Mr Wong denied that signatures on the allegedly fake documents were his, just one day after his colleague and supposed co-signatory Walter Kwok had done the same.
Giving evidence via video link from a Hong Kong courtroom, Mr Wong, who has worked for SHKP for 31 years, also said that a seal alleged to have been used on the fake documents differed from the real one.
Speaking through a Cantonese interpreter, Mr Wong answered: “I do not know that person,” when asked by prosecutor Victor Temple QC whether he “knew or had done business with” Mr Kallakis. Mr Wong gave similar answers when asked the same question about Mr Williams (44) or Mr Kallakis’s Switzerland-based legal adviser, Michael Becker.
Mr Temple then asked: “From what you know about SHKP as a company, have they ever been involved in any property transactions in the UK?”
Mr Wong answered: “As far as I myself am concerned, I have not been involved in property transactions in the UK and also . . . the company has not been involved in any such property transactions.”
Asked by Mr Temple whether SHKP had ever conducted business with allegedly fraudulent companies run by Mr Kallakis and Mr Williams, Mr Wong said: “No.”
He also refuted any involvement in a string of buildings in London and other parts of Britain said to have been bought using fake guarantees. “I have nothing to do with any of these premises or properties and I have no knowledge at all of any of those addresses.”
Mr Temple asked Mr Wong about signatures claimed to be his on a sample of alleged SHKP guarantees. “The signature does not belong to me,” he said.
Mr Wong also challenged the authenticity of the SHKP seal used on the alleged fake documents. He said he could “tell the difference”.
George Carter-Stephenson QC, representing Mr Kallakis (44), questioned Mr Wong about the circumstances surrounding Walter Kwok’s departure from the executive board of SHKP in 2008.
“Is the reason you are not prepared to give any reason for the removal of Walter Kwok is that SHKP is concerned that as he was chairman and CEO of SHKP at the time that if he was responsible for anything to do with these documents, SHKP may have been liable?”
Mr Wong initially said the decision had been taken for “the long-term development of the company”, but added: “According to my recollection, this AIB incident was not mentioned during the course of the board meeting.”
Mr Carter-Stephenson then asked: “Is it the case that SHKP is not standing by these guarantees because of the company position, the removal of Mr Kwok and the effect and financial crisis at the time?”
Mr Wong answered: “My answer is that I had no knowledge at all in relation to these documents, and we by no means would have entered documentation in relation to this matter.”
Mr Kallakis and Mr Williams deny charges of conspiracy to defraud, fraud, money laundering and obtaining a money transfer by deception. The trial continues.