TWO fraudsters who conspired to swindle banks of hundreds of millions of pounds to fund a lavish lifestyle have been jailed.
Achilleas Kallakis and Alexander Williams, both 44 and from London, tried to defraud Allied Irish Banks (AIB) out of £740 million and Bank of Scotland (BoS), as it was known, of €26m (£22m) between August 2003 and November 2008.
The offences were carried out over five years and funded property and luxury yacht scams.
Yesterday, at Southwark Crown Court Kallakis, the “prime mover” was jailed for seven years and Williams for five years.
Neither reacted as Judge Andrew Goymer delivered the sentences.
During the trial, the jury was told that Kallakis used the proceeds of his fraud to fund the lifestyle of the super-rich in which he maintained a fleet of chauffeur-driven Bentleys, a private plane, a private helicopter, a luxury yacht moored in Monaco harbour and a collection of high-value art works.
The pair were convicted yesterday of two counts of conspiring to defraud the banks after a four-month trial.
The men used forged documents as part of their plot to use AIB money to buy properties and BoS cash to convert an ex-passenger ferry into a super-yacht.
The loss to AIB was more than £56m and €5.8m euro (£4.8 million) to BoS.
Judge Goymer said he regarded these sums as “paper figures which I treat with some scepticism”.
Attacking the banks, he said: “AIB and BoS have undoubtedly acted carelessly and imprudently by failing to make full inquiries before advancing the money.
“Indeed the latter bank was given clear and precise warnings by its lawyers about the risks of accepting assurances in a letter from an alleged co-conspirator, a Swiss lawyer.
“It almost beggars belief senior management chose to disregard that warning and rushed to complete the deal at all costs.
“It is apparent from the evidence both the defendants took full advantage of the prevailing banking culture in which corners are cut, and checks on them superficial and cursory.”
He added: “The banks do bear some degree of responsibility for what happened.”
The judge told Kallakis, a married father of four, and Williams, whose wife took their daughter back to the Philippines a few years ago, they were responsible for fraud “on a major scale”.
He told them they both needed each other for the frauds to work.
The duo, who both used various aliases, operated from London business premises in Mayfair, where Kallakis, a one-time travel agent, masqueraded as a legitimate property tycoon and Williams as a financial consultant.
Kallakis and Williams operated out of their office as the Pacific Group of Companies and defrauded AIB by using the forged or false documents or claims in order to obtain substantial loans to finance the purchase of what was mostly a commercial property portfolio.
The transactions were structured in a way that the bank loans exceeded the purchase price of the properties using a guarantee from a well-established Hong Kong company, Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited (SHKP), which knew nothing about the guarantees because they were forged by the men.
Swiss lawyer and businessman Michael Becker, is alleged to have conspired with the defendants. The Serious Fraud Office claimed he was closely involved in the fraud and was director of companies presented to the banks in the loan agreements.
As he is a Swiss national, he has not been charged.