by Mark Beggs
…For the next twenty minutes, David outlined what he had done and the problem he now faced. He explained about the sales audit in less than four weeks and how he had received sizable commissions based on false sales. He also explained what the money had been used for. He felt he had to let Boyle know everything in case Boyle thought he had used it for something illegal or perhaps even for drugs. As he listened, Boyle scribbled down notes on his yellow notepad. Only sporadically did he interrupt David to clarify some point. When David was finished, Boyle sat there in silence, his mind at work turning over his client’s problem, his expression giving nothing away.
The diminutive man finally spoke, “Well, David, this is a serious situation. No matter which way you look at it, it’s robbery, or call it by its posh name - fraud. But let me think.”
For another few minutes Boyle looked past Monroe’s head into the distance contemplating. His mind was trying to work a way out of this for his client. But he knew the law and this was fraud and it was very clear-cut so the solution was to make it, unclear cut, as all good solicitors knew.
Finally, Boyle looked away from the painting he had being staring at and leaned back in his chair.
“David, let me share with you a short story that may help. Many years ago, a young man came to me with a similar problem. He told me that he worked as a junior in a bank,” Boyle’s story tumbled out. “He was only about twenty. He told me that he had taken four thousand pounds from the bank and hadn’t been caught, and this was when four thousand pounds was a lot of money. But, this lad lived in fear of being found out and wanted me to help him sort the problem.”
Boyle paused for a moment to reach for a cigarette and light it. He inhaled and blew out a cloud of blue smoke. “So, I asked him if he could do it again,” Boyle said with a smirk. “Well, this fellow looked at me as if I had ten heads. Here he was trying to make something better and I was asking him to do it again!” Boyle chuckled at the thought. David smiled, but wondered how all this would help him.
“Well, he said yes, he could do it again. So, of course, he went to rob another four thousand. About two weeks later, he hands me a bag with four thousand pounds in it. All in tens. I didn’t even ask him how he did it. No, I just took the money and put it in that safe,” he said pointing to a large vault in the corner of his office.
Boyle paused again and had another pull on his cigarette.
“I then asked him for the name and telephone number of his boss and I rang the chap.”
”Why did you do that?” David asked.
“Well, I had to do my job and make the whole thing go away for this young man. But wait, here’s the good bit,” Boyle said holding up his palm to stop David from interrupting again.
“I told his boss that I had this young chap here who had stolen eight thousand pounds from his bank and I offered him two thousand pounds in full and final settlement. Well, he told me that he would call me back in an hour,” Boyle paused and took another pull. “I had this poor chap wait in the reception room wondering for an hour what his fate would be.”
“And?” David urged.
“The bank manager rang me back and agreed to settle for two thousand. On one condition. And that was that it never got out. He was worried his customers would hear of it and move their accounts,” Boyle finished, laughing.
“What about the young chap?” David asked.
“He lost his job. But, he stayed out of prison,” Boyle answered and then hastily added “And, I got the two that was left as a fee.”
David Monroe stared at Boyle wondering what the point was when the realisation of what Boyle was saying hit him and the first smile in the last twenty-four hours began to grow on his face.
“Look David, let me spell it out for you,” Boyle said sounding irritated. “If these so called false customers actually pay their bills then your problem goes away, isn’t that so?”
”Yes,” David said and added “But they’re not real customers so how can they pay their bills? Unless…”