I have never been so nervous before, just did not want this to go wrong. Spent more than half a decade with Lionstone Bank and I never thought that I would have the opportunity to assist Mr. Gillespie with one of his ‘meetings’. We are not a typical bank. Headquartered in London with offices (not branches) in New York, Malta and Austria. We never took deposits from the public and never did any public dealings. We have a very niche ‘private’ clientele to whom we lent and invested in.
Mr. Gillespie a fourth generation banker took over this ‘boutique’ bank from his father after he was abducted and killed in Waziristan.
“Remember to be confident and don’t speak unless you are spoken to” I remembered Teresa, his permanent assistant telling me this after she was admitted of a stroke.
I entered his office for the first time on the 30th floor which had the most amazing view of the Thames. I spent about 30 minutes to make sure I had all my notes ready, the coffee table arranged, setting the cutlery and his notes. Moments later, I picked up the buzzing intercom to realize that his 2’o clock appointment had arrived and was on his way to Mr. Gillespie’s office.
General Abdi entered and shook hands with me. My petite figure felt like a fly in front of this towering height and his coarse, worn out hands. He ordered two of his associates to wait outside who reluctantly obliged.
“General Abdi, thank you very much for coming and I hope you had a pleasant flight” with all the pleasantries I showered upon him, all I got was a smile. He kept looking around the office and took a seat on the sofa.
“The fortune you all must have spent on the office, must be more than the economy of a small country” he said with a smirk and felt the mahogany coffee table by rubbing his fingers. He is not wrong, it was rumoured that Mr. Gillespie’s desk was for more than a million pounds using the wooden hull of a famous British Ship called Cutty Sark.
Ten minutes later my chat with General Abdi was interrupted when Mr. Gillespie walked in his office filling up the air of his office with his brutal arrogance. I stood up as soon as he entered without thinking if it was the right thing to do.
Mr. Gillespie did not bother to return the pleasantries which was offered by The General. He sat down on the sofa which looked like a soft throne, placing his palms on his crossed knees.
I was ready with my notebook to make notes as Theresa instructed me. “Record every point they talk about” she told me from her hospital bed.
“Thank you Mr. Gillespie for your time, I know you are a busy man, in my country no one would dare to make me wait”
Mr. Gillespie just gave a half smile and said, “Yet you are in exile General Abdi” came his curt reply sat down folded his palms on his knees like he did not care.
“I am a patriotic man Mr. Gillespie. Three generations of my family served the army of my great country…so I am sure you understand how it feels when coward politicians suck the blood out of innocent farmers, giving them peanuts for their produce. They fill their pockets by giving infrastructure contracts and projects to the companies they have interests in” He took a gulp of water and continued. “I am sure you know the rumours, I plan to stage a coup, return to my country and overthrow this corrupt; bloodsucking termites from my land…and for that, I have come to you…”
“How can I help you General? Safe to assume that you want me to fund your movement to be the sole power of your country?” he said with side glance to me indicating that I make detailed notes of what the General had to say to this.
“In spite of being a landlocked country, we have silty soil which makes our land very fertile, we have abundant ground water and four plants which process them. This is essential for the growth of wheat which is more than 88% of our exports. So you see Mr. Gillespie, paying your loan back will not pose a big problem for us”
Mr. Gillespie bent forward and looked at the General in the eye, “I admire your patriotism, your valour and I have no doubt that your country can comfortably pay us of and here is my offer!” Mr. Gillespie took out his customized Mont Blanc and scribbled on the note pad on the Belgian glass on top of his Mahogany coffee table.
“I will give you $10billion as you requested while setting up the meeting, with a simple interest of just 3% payable yearly… with your country as a collateral. If you don’t pay this off, I will own your land, your treasury, your economy…you know what I am talking about” he said with is eye brows twisted noticing General Abdi’s every move. He couldn’t help noticing a bead of sweat rolling from his temple.
“My country as a collateral?” The General spoke slowly trying his best to put up a brave face and not letting his emotions take over.
“Look at your numbers General Abdi, if your politicians were not swindling money from your treasury you wouldn’t be here asking for a loan, you can pay my principal in less than four years”
The General thought for a moment and shook Mr. Gillespie hands as an acceptance of the offer.
“Mr. Gillespie…are you sure about this? Just 3% interest with a collateral you can never have?” I mustered all my courage to ask him said after General Abdi walked out.
“Who says I want my money back? That’s not the business we are in. We are in the business of buying countries and I know that he will never be able to pay up.”
“Remember the 4 water processing plants he was talking about which powers the 88% of his exports?” he continued with a smirk while buttoning his custom tailored Armani coat.
“My shell company owns them” he said on his way out of his office.
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