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Unknown liability

Novel By: Franck Hayes

Accounting professional Ling embark on a dangerous audit assignment that lead her from the outer reaches of Uzbekistan to the golden safes of Geneva and reveal an incredible plot about oil, finance and politics.
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Submitted:Apr 21, 2014    Reads: 3    Comments: 0    Likes: 1   

It was one of those rainy greyish mornings which London is used to. Ling was enjoying her coffee at the company's cafeteria at the 34th floor of the Lloyds building. The view was one of London's finest, you could see all the way to Canary Wharf on all the activity buzzing through the City. This reminded her how far she had come to be here, one of the youngest analysts at DeMoisson & Associates. Ling had graduated from Oxford with a degree in International Taxation Law and had been working at DeMoisson since then. Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a coin being put in the coffee machine. "Ling, darling, your skirt is so tight I can barely concentrate". She turned round and immediately recognized Amir. Amir and her had entered the company together a year ago and had become close friends, even if they couldn't stop arguing about everything. Amir is from French-Moroccan origins and also graduated from Oxford in Computer Systems Analytics; both of them knew each other back from university. Ling was well aware that Amir had a particular taste for Asians and was famous at uni for being the only non-Asian member of the Japanese and Chinese societies at Oxford. But even if she sometimes disapproved his behavior, she finded him a good joke and liked to work with him. "Oh dear, Amir, stop being a jerk and just grab your coffee, you know we have a meeting in a minute for our next assignment. Let's go, we're already late." Ling and Amir hurried down the corridor to the conference room. Walls were lined with photos of oil rigs, quarries and container ships, reminding that DeMoisson & Associates was the assurance and compensation specialist for high investment industries around the world. Ling and Amir were part of the audit department and as such were responsible for assessing client's risks and garantees.
Two people were waiting for them in the conference room. "Sorry boss, elevator traffic jams this morning!", joked Amir. "Ok, enough you two, just sit there and be quiet for once" replied John amused. John is the Investigation & Dispute department head. "Guys, let me introduce you to your new senior consultant Edouard. Edouard is joining us from our Singapour office, where he worked as our Oil & Gas specialist for our French and Dutch clients. You will be working together on your next mission, and Edouard, I can promise you, those two are not easy to manage" said John rising his eyes to the sky. Edouard gave a hint of a smile. Ling considered him more closely. Edouard was a tall, gracious, blonde man, perhaps 28 or 29 years old, he was very good-looking, but had this kind of old-fashioned aristocratic way of behaving. He was wearing a perfectly tailored suit and expensive leather shoes, but also a non-standard Mao collar shirt underneath and no tie which gave him some kind of exotic appearance. She already knew much about him; Edouard De Beaufort, born in an old noble Belgian family, spent his youth in Congo and graduated from the French Petroleum Institute; rumors at DeMoisson said he was only assigned to the most risky clients and was the rising star in the Singapour office.
"One of our London-based clients Blackpool Assets Ltd has recently invested a big amount of money in the Bagpadan refinement facilities south of Bakou, Azerbadjian, continued John switching on the projection screen, and their internal audit teams have detected anomalies in inventory counts since their local partner has assigned a new plant director to the facility. We happen to have a global assurance contract with Blackpool Assets and as such we need you to assess the fraud risk of this particular subsidiary. As you see, pointed John to the screen, Bagpadan is close to the Iranian border and our analysts have informed us that some of the Iranian oil which is under embargo is smuggled through Azerbadjian to be sold. I am therefore advising you to be very careful during your investigation as you might be confronted to bigger business stakes than expected." Ling looked at her colleagues over the table; Edouard was frowning eyebrows, he seemed very concentrated. This seems like a tricky mission thought Ling dreaming. "Good thing I got myself an Amex Gold, whispered in her ear Amir, flight and hotel bills alone are going to give me a hell of a lot of points!". God, could this guy never be serious one moment, said Ling to herself.
"You'll be taking tomorrow morning's flight to Bakou, your local contact will be Claire Delacour, which acts as Backpool's industrial controller in the Bagpadan oil complex. She should be picking you up at the airport in about 21h, said John looking at his watch. We received assurance from our client that local personnel should be cooperative and that you should have full access to the information system and to the warehouses. You'll find detailed information in the preliminary report you'll receive before leaving. As usual, you will find internal audit's documents as well as our Level 1 analysts' review. Ling, Amir, Edouard, good luck for your mission and don't forget what DeMoisson&Associates has always stood for: excellence for our clients, quality above all others."
Amir started clapping. Now, that made Ling giggle, how many times they had been hearing this corporate rubbish! Whatever, she thought. She was focusing on Edouard, trying to interpret his reactions to this presentation: is it going to be dangerous? Is it going to be difficult? She couldn't really point out any emotions, Edouard seemed concentrated, but stood very calm, he inspired confidence. He turned to the two juniors and winked with a large smile "See you two at the airport then "terrors", try to get a good night sleep, cause it's going to be a long day tomorrow". John and him left the room talking low. "Well then Amir, don't forget to be on time tomorrow, the plane company is not going to buy elevator problems this time", saind Ling as she left the room, leaving Amir muttering over his laptop. A good night sleep it will be then, she told herself with a blasé tone, it really is going to be a long day tomorrow after all...


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