Bloomberg News

Poker ‘Don’ Sentenced to 7 Years in $1.2 Billion U.K. Fraud Case

January 17, 2013

Greek businessman Achilleas Kallakis, known as “The Don” on the international poker circuit, was sentenced to seven years in jail by a U.K. judge after being found guilty of defrauding lenders to pay for trophy property, planes, a yacht in Monaco and luxury cars.

Judge Andrew Goymer said the crime amounted to “fraud on a major scale” as he issued the sentence at a hearing in London today. Kallakis, 44, and his co-conspirator Alexander M. Williams, also 44, were convicted yesterday of defrauding banks to borrow 740 million pounds ($1.2 billion) and acquire 16 properties including an office building on London’s St. James’s Square.

“Both men took full advantage of the prevailing banking culture in which corners were cut and checks and applications were spurious,” Goymer said.

The two men, operating out of an office in central London’s Mayfair neighborhood as the Pacific Group of Companies, conspired from 2003 through 2008 to defraud lender Allied Irish Banks Plc (ALBK), the U.K. Serious Fraud Office said. They borrowed 29 million euros ($38.8 million) more from the Bank of Scotland Plc to convert a passenger ferry into a yacht for Kallakis’s use.

The lenders were given a forged guarantee from a Hong Kong company to get bank loans that exceeded the purchase prices of the properties. The suspected fraud was reported to the prosecutors at the SFO by the Hong Kong firm and by Allied Irish. An investigation began in January 2009 and the men were later charged with forgery, fraud by false representation, money laundering, conspiracy to defraud and obtaining a money transfer by deception.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hodges in London at jhodges17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net


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