Three years after Greek businessman and professional poker player Achilleas Kallakis was charged with deception, fraud and forgery relating to the Allied Irish Bank and the Bank of Scotland, the man known as “The Don” on the international poker circuit is facing serious time behind bars after being convicted of defrauding the lenders of the two banks to the staggering tune of £740 million ($1.18 billion).
Kallakis hasn’t been around the game of poker of late. But he’s fared quite well during live tournaments, accumulation well over $300,000 in career winnings, highlighted by this third-place finish at the 2005 Pacific Poker Open. Apparently, there was a reason why the man hasn’t been around the felt recently…and it’s got nothing to do with sharpening his skills.
The 44-year old Kallakis, together with his buddy-in-deceit, Alexander M. Williams, conspired to defraud lenders in order to acquire a smorgasbord of luxury purchases that included, among other things, 16 properties including an office building on London’s St. James Square, a fleet of Bentleys (all chauffeur driven), private planes, helicopters, and prized artworks. And that doesn’t even count the £29 million ($38.5 million) they borrowed from the Bank of Scotland, which is now part of Lloyds Banking Group Plc, to buy a passenger ferry and turn it into a yacht for Kallakis’ personal use that is now harbored, incidentally, in Monaco.
Kallakis and Williams’ trail of fraud ran from 2003 to 2008. But it finally caught up to them after their wheelings-and-dealings were reported to the U.K. Serious Fraud Office by Allied Irish and Hong Kong’s Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. An investigation began shortly thereafter and in January 2009, the two men were charged with a multitude of crimes, including forgery, fraud by false representation, money laundering, conspiracy to defraud and obtaining a money transfer by deception.
Sentencing for both Kallakis and Williams will be done later this week, following by confiscation proceedings where the two are expected to lose pretty much everything except for the clothes on their backs. And even that isn’t a guarantee once they’re behind bars.