Chapter 19: Second Part / Chapter 9

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 69

SECOND PART / CHAPTER 9


Nicole leaves Signe d’argent and works in one of the branches of Banque de Morales. She begins to work in a conference room with four men. Her official job is an appraiser of business projects of the second level (when businessmen taking loans for the corporate sector are considered a little more seriously than by the phone).

No training, no education already; Nicole passed her selection, and she has the right to get this job now. And they give her the opportunity. Judging by the speech of Pierre Morales while he was in a Chinese restaurant, he adhered to provide such a policy that Signe d’argent is a ‘mirage’ and an inferior company.

And it needs to be treated like a low-life bureau, like barracks for the novice military. But Banque de Morales is a solid company. Nicole hoped, being an appraiser, not to engage in at least direct deception of anyone, but simply to do her job and be calm for her conscience.

Her official position had the full title ‘Specialist in Assessing Economic Risks,’ but among her current colleagues, few people used it. They were ‘evaluators,’ nothing more. The first weeks of work weren’t even working, it was an internship. You cannot get this job in any other way.

In front of the people, there is a small stage with a microphone, a slideshow.

There are business people who talk about their business. There is trust in those who bring slides, documents, reinforce the words with something more than a simple story on a microphone. One is considered less reliable who simply speaks.

Surely there’ll be a part of the economy, which by definition cannot be clear; that’s, facing the future. At least that’s what she thought. Is there any perspective of this project? Is a good thing to invest in it? And if not, why? She always believed that such reports weren’t based on any real intel but a kind of economic shamanism.

The work on the economic valuation of corporate loans didn’t seem complicated. You have to listen to, make notes, ask questions, sometimes go to the legal address of the company or the address of the production.

Nicole worked with three men. Paul Sitto, Roy Pajaze and Simon Macrobie. The first was about the same age as Pierre Morales himself. Without a beard and moustache, with a partially bald forehead with wrinkles, he has grey hair and glasses. He makes the impression of a lawyer from some notary office. Or some psychoanalyst.

The second man was middle age with a slight unshaven look, but it doesn’t repel. His age was difficult to estimate, but somewhere from thirty to forty. As for the third ... it’s even hard to imagine an unattractive young man. Whatever you thought, he was worse.

He’s young, twenty years old, but thin and skinny; he has thick small eyebrows and black hair and glasses. This is not even a boy. If you look at his side, it makes you feel an impression as if he’s slightly malnourished.

And for some reason, the facial features are very unattractive, at least from the point of view of Nicole. Such unattractive people are rare to come across, but even Margeaux used the word “tube” for such people.

The last word remained behind Paul Sitto. He was a senior appraiser of ‘economic risks.’

The evaluators interrupt the speaker. They notice the weak side of sentences and, firstly, are interested very precisely in them. No businessman can arbitrarily talk to an audience without leading questions. As the stenographer’s pieces of training constantly said, remember the dubious moment of their proposal or story immediately. Otherwise, tomorrow they’ll deny that they said it at all.

Sometimes employees ride to an enterprise to see how solid a businessman is. At le Banque de Morales, they even pay extra for moving out. Two employees are absent, their work in listening to presentations is done by others temporarily. It explains a lot, for what employees are taught a variety of skills at the training, even not related to the final job. They may be required for extracurricular work, and it’s a feature of the business itself.

Pierre believes that it’s more profitable to keep a team of professionals at about the same level than to look for different specialists for auxiliary work.

Due to the information that falsely reported by the businessman’s phone, a very light-minded man once got into the conference hall. An ordinary Frenchman about thirty years old, appearance without special features. He said that he’d already attracted investments of at least 5,000 euros in his business. The phone operators didn’t find a lie and invited him to discuss the project in Nicole’s hall. He’s holding some kind of butcher shop.

“Let me interrupt you, Austin,” she said, and this was her first working day. “You claim that you have invested at least 5,000 euros. Is that your money?”

“No, that’s not my money. My business was booming. I worked with different banks and opened shop after shop.”

“What’s your total legal entity authorized capital?” Asked Paul.

“There was more than one company. I didn’t count.”

“Why ‘was’ it?”

“They closed.”

“Then what’s the size of the losses?”

“And what, my previous business so crucial? Not the current and developing, but the previous one?”

Nicole understood that she again remembered the scene from that Vietnamese film. Everything matters. So don’t go away from the answers. She asked:

“How many legal entities do you have now?”

“One company,” Austin answered. “But it’s developing widely. I know I didn’t take the corresponding papers.”

“Let’s remember the beginning of the conversation,” the thin Simon spoke up. “Did you claim that the purpose of obtaining your loan was for store expansion?”

“Yes of course.”

“How do you plan to expand the company?” he asked. “Completion of an existing building, relocation, rental of other premises?”

“I would like to rent another room.”

“How many people work for you?” Asked Paul.

Judging by Austin’s intonation, it was obvious that he was nervous. For some reason, he didn’t like this question, and Nicole noticed it right away.

“I think that it’s pointless to discuss it in your conference room. Come to me, I’ll show you.”

Austin left the stage and laid out on their table his business card with an address.

“I think that’s all,” said Paul. “Please, Austin, get on and go backstage. Our security guard will show you the way, wait there. We’ll make a decision right now.”

The outcome of the meeting is clear: they must go to him. Paul immediately said that judging from his experience, this Austin was clearly hiding something; at least he wasn’t earning the money he was talking about. Nicole agreed, pointing to a weird pause on one question.

Paul sent two people: Nicole and Roy. If this weren’t her first working day, he would send her alone. But she was an intern and should gain experience in evaluating a business “on the spot” with a more experienced person.

Nicole followed the door with the sign ‘Personnel autorisé seulement.’ There was a hanger for employees. She no longer wore the usual black jacket and flared black skirt, which she worked in during the time of Signe d’argent. Throwing a light jacket over a black T-shirt with dark jeans, Nicole went outside with Roy and went towards the parking lot.

Expecting to see something like a sedan or a hatchback, they didn’t come to the car at all but a motorcycle. Like Gerard, whom Alene spoke about, Roy was also a supporter of such a point of view that Paris is terribly cramped, and you can get to some of its corners on a motorcycle faster than in a car. One problem: Nicole didn’t have a helmet or knee pads. Roy rode slowly, at least not faster than a bicycle, and she didn’t need all this.

Several times Roy asked passers-by for directions; there were no navigators in the cars either. Finally, they found the address and stopped. An inexpensive room with a sign “Butcher’s shop at Austin” sat opposite a bus stop.

Austin has only one butcher shop with one butcher. When they entered, they found a small room of about 40 square meters, surrounded by three walls of a dark grey colour. Two departments for visitors, the first selling frozen meat, the second selling other products, and a technical room.

The entrepreneur forbade them to enter the technical room and claimed that he would consider this a robbery. Roy discovered the absence of an alarm and a fire extinguisher. It wasn’t similar to a business with an investment of 5,000 euros. To this, the entrepreneur told them that before the appearance of this particular shop, it had been closed and opened in more than five places. Previously, he hasn’t been lucky: places were with low traffic, and almost no one went there.

And now a hundred people come into the store every day but at different times of the day, which is good for small shops. He didn’t have any documents, video cameras, or serious evidence, he only said, “Here I’ve been working with a butcher for half a day to look at it.”

Banque de Morales, of course, had to refuse to approve the loan. A week later, the businessman called Nicole by the phone and said that after returning from the store some gangsters tried to beat him in the evening. It seems that they were of Chinese-Asian appearance. Austin was an athlete, but not in the field of wrestling, and the best thing he could do run away.

Having received her first salary, Nicole bought a bicycle, because her work connects with travelling. She acquired two habits: to go on a bicycle and constantly check for alarms. Gradually, having worked with Roy, she understood what to look for.

Paul once instructed Roy himself, but now he knew who should be sent to such places. When Nicole ceased to be an intern, Paul came up with an excuse as to why two people should go to places, not one. Nicole evaluates the service itself, the human factor (courtesy of sellers); Roy evaluates the technique. First of all, he communicates with an accountant, manager and director.

They somehow arrive at a company that’s engaged in the assembly of computers and its components. The director of the company was Russian. In a brand new office, with a full repair, the sockets were installed not according to the European standard: for half a meter (if not one and a half), and not thirty centimetres from the floor.

Roy says that the bank will give a loan for “further improving the business,” but it’s better to change the location of the sockets. Now, the bank staff noticed this, but not ‘someone more serious.’ They can be fined.

Nicole recalls very weird store that she has been to. First of all: the items in the store itself were not defined, more towards furniture. They don’t sell sofas, cabinets, armchairs, but they sell wheels from sofas and armchairs, building corners, some tools, like roulettes or drills.

Area of about 80 square meters; five sellers, shop windows, indexing goods on a computer. Roy doesn’t find problems in the accounting part; they don’t lie about sales. Nicole noticed one problem: sellers don’t always know where to look for one product or another.

Mom came with some sixteen-year-old teenager, wanted to buy wheels for a chair. A slightly chubby salesman, around forty years, told her that these wheels for chairs are weak because they’re more suitable for tables. But she had the firm intention to buy, because no one is sitting on the armchair anyway, and this is a decorative element in the design of their flat. For five years, however, they broke.

She said that the same wheels had already held this chair in recent years. The seller’s assistant and, apparently, the loader from time to time, brought from the warehouse either one stereotyped cardboard box, then another, then a third. But instead of wheels for mother’s chair, there were first roulettes, then punchers, and then a chainsaw. The seller opened them in front of the customer.

Nicole wrote in her notebook: “Poor logistics management” with a detailed description of analyzed problem. After a couple of months, she got accustomed to the professional terms of her partner.

The teenager said:

“Could you please be quick? We’re in a hurry.”

Not the smartest assistant middle-aged seller walked with slanting eyebrows and was clearly ready to curse. Besides sweating, Nicole understood that he was taking the boxes from the upper shelves, taking the small ladder to the warehouse room. The small ladder sat in front of the sellers half an hour ago. As if they were still repairing the light here. They answered him:

“Sorry, the situation in our store is not quite normal. Full of outsiders, new trainees and sellers came.”

After half an hour, they still found these unfortunate wheels for a chair, and mother and a teenager left the store. But this doesn’t solve the problems of logistics. Top banking staff here agreed with Nicole’s assessment and didn’t approve the application for these idiots.

Alain Renard told Nicole that there weren’t any of them on the list of clients to put into “mirage.” Pierre Morales could simply throw some clients away without redirecting them into a “mirage” company.


Submitted: September 21, 2019

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