Property fraudsters jailed
BBC news has reported that two men from London have been sent to jail after being found guilty of defrauding Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Scotland £61m.
Achilleas Kallakis and Alexander Williams, both 44, were sentenced to seven years and five years respectively, at Southwark Crown Court.
Between 2003 and 2008, they duped the banks into lending them the money to buy properties.
Judge Andrew Goymer said that the banks themselves were partly to blame for the losses.
He said during sentencing: "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.”
The two men operated from offices in Mayfair in London where Kallakis pretended to be a property tycoon and Williams a financial consultant.
Ronan Duff of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said: "This was an audacious, persistent fraud that enabled these defendants, Mr Kallakis in particular, to lead the lifestyle of the super-rich.
"The SFO have been equally persistent in investigating this elaborate scam and in ensuring that justice has been delivered."
Claiming to operate as the Pacific Group, the two men used bogus documents to dupe Allied Irish Banks (AIB) into lending them £740m to buy a portfolio of 16 different commercial properties.
The properties and their purchase were real, but their value was inflated, letting the fraudsters siphon off £60m.
The bank only realised it had been defrauded when it learned that Kallakis had a previous conviction under a false name.