LONDON, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Two businessmen have been found
guilty in London of defrauding banks of hundreds of millions of
pounds to fund a lavish lifestyle and build a commercial
property empire, in their second conviction for deception and
forgery in 18 years.
London-based Achilleas Kallakis and Alexander Williams, both
aged 44, persuaded Allied Irish Banks to lend them 740
million pounds ($1.2 billion) by using forged documents and fake
property guarantees between 2003 and 2008, the Serious Fraud
Office (SFO) said on Wednesday.
The loans enabled Kallakis to build a 16-property portfolio.
The fraud, which included an agreement from HBOS, now part
of Lloyds, included a multi-million euro loan Kallakis
said was to convert a passenger ferry into a super-yacht. Around
six million euros of that loan was advanced.
A third person, Swiss lawyer Michael Becker, was director of
companies involved in the loan agreements and was closely
involved in the fraud, the SFO said in a statement. He was not
charged as he lives abroad and is outside the SFO's
The jury, which returned unanimous verdicts on two counts of
conspiracy to defraud, were told Kallakis maintained a fleet of
chauffeur driven Bentleys, a private jet, a private helicopter,
a luxury yacht moored in Monaco and high value art.
Kallakis and Williams, an expert forger, have been remanded
in custody awaiting sentencing on Thursday.
The two men, who changed their names after being convicted
in 1995 of selling bogus honorary titles mainly to Americans,
operated out of an office in London's plush Mayfair district as
the Pacific Group of Companies.
They pretended a respected Hong Kong company, Sun Hung Kai
Properties (SHKP), was guaranteeing long-term, top
rents for commercial properties. This inflated the price of the
properties to 60 million pounds above their cost, the SFO said.
They also provided false guarantees from a company called
Oregon Finance Corp, which Kallakis said was a billion-dollar
ship-owner belonging to his family trust. Oregon Finance,
however, had millions of pounds of liabilities and no assets.
During 2007 and 2008, Kallakis agreed a 29 million euro HBOS
loan for the boat conversion. He provided the bank with
documents that included a death certificate of his mother in
which her surname was altered to hide Kallakis's name change.
But by August 2008, AIB discovered that Kallakis had a
previous fraud conviction in the name of Stefanos Kollakis. They
contacted Hong Kong's SHKP, which confirmed they had not offered
Kallakis any rent guarantees.
A police investigation began in January 2009 and the men
were charged in February 2010.