Death by Parking - Chapter 20 - We Form a Bank
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I had no idea just how complex these long cons could be. By the time we were in it, there were over 20 people involved. It counted not only us, but the crew to ‘run’ the fake bank, the London end, and of course, Veronica and Josh, who were in staffing roles. I was worried, but Rickie, my con man uncle, seemed to have it all in hand.
The gang he hired from the Magic Castle weren’t only magicians, but actors who could carry off any plan. He simply had to give them the overview, and they took it from there. I was most concerned about a bunch of carnies running a major financial institution. He just laughed. “Very few people, including those at the head of the bank, actually know what the worker bees do day to day. As long as the numbers foot at the close of business each day, everyone is happy.”
“I have a crew that will pass easily as financial experts. Some of them are actually experts in the field. I’ll be happy to let you interview any of them, and I’m sure they will pass the test. However it might be better if you spoke to a few just so you feel better about it.” I said fine, and in a couple of hours three men in business suits showed up at our door. I asked who they were and they said they were with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
I wasn’t sure just why the FDIC was talking to me, but we sat down, had coffee, and they spent the next hour telling me how the FDIC helped stressed banks, did audits, and ensured that the depositors had their money kept safe. They explained they were currently working with May Jansen’s bank, and that for the most part, all seemed well, but it was on the ‘watch list.’ I asked just why they were talking to me, and they said that they had heard that I was looking for people to work in a new bank I was starting up and they were available. I then understood that I was part of the interview. These three worked for Rickie. I was sold.
V and J met with Smith at 4 that afternoon. They picked a high end restaurant and were able to snag a small meeting room. Smith told them that he was interested in a capital infusion to handle some projects he had in mind. Veronica mentioned that they had money to invest, however needed to know a lot more about Smith’s organization before committing. She also stressed that deals of this magnitude take a bit of time and she needed Smith to slow down a bit. He understood and said that there was a party coming up in a few days at Maryann Leaman’s home. Most of Smith’s principals will be there and it would be a good opportunity for V and J to meet them. He felt that once they met his people, they would be the one’s speeding up the process.
Josh said that would be a good start, however they would need to see some numbers and let their actuaries review them here in the Banks new offices they were opening downtown. He explained that a team was coming over from the UK to get the process rolling and their CEO would be in town and perhaps he should be at the party. Smith said he could make that happen.
Just as they were leaving, Veronica mentioned to Smith that “their bank, Smythe and Co, really didn’t like to do business with someone that didn’t have ‘skin in the game’ as you Americans like to say.” Smith said he understood and was ready to participate when necessary.
Neither V nor J was sure exactly what that meant but left it there. Their “CEO” could flesh it out when they met again with Smith.
In the next few days, our behind the scenes team was busy selecting a space that would be appropriate for “Smythe and Co.” The building was in the financial district, all granite and marble, and oozed silent wealth. There were four other merchant banks in its 20 stories and a complete floor where another bank had left everything behind as it merged and moved out. Perfect for Smythe.
The crew selected by Rickie moved in the day we signed a short term lease and begin turning it into an English merchant bank. Veronica and Josh moved in and set up adjoining offices with views all the way from downtown to Santa Monica. The carpets were thick, the furniture real mahogany, and the art on the wall obscure enough so no one could tell what it was.
Phones were ringing, faxes printing, and teletype machines were clattering. However in the inner offices silence reigned. Nothing was to disturb the deep thinking that bankers used to sort out just the right deals to make their customers a lot of money.
The entire team met there the day of Maryann’s party. They were all impressed and told Rickie so. He smiled and said that the best was yet to come. He opened a door and Smythe and Co’s CEO stepped out. His chalk stripe suit was immaculate, his cuffs clipped with gold, his tie was without a doubt Hermes with a pocket square that set it off perfectly. His moustache was understated, his glasses perfect, and his shoes were definitely from Italy. I think his outfit cost more than the lease on the space.
He walked into the room and immediately commanded respect. He walked by each of us and frankly looked down his nose. When he reached the head of the table, he shot his cuffs, sat down, and said “Let’s get to work.”
“It is my understanding that Mr. Smith is the mark in this little operation. I will meet him at the party tonight at Mrs. Leaman’s home and will give him a listen and then an impolite brush off.” His accent reeked of public school and Oxford. I found out later that he grew up in the shadow of St Mary’s church and was as cockney as they come. Tomorrow he could have been starring in that new play that was a take off on Pygmalion. Perfect
“Out goal is to get him to invest, or even buy our little enterprise, namely Smythe and Co. However we want him to be drooling and chomping at the bit. Therefore we will give the definite impression that he isn’t in our plans. It will then be up to Veronica and Josh to reel him back in after the hook is good and set.
“I understand he has an underling namely a Mr. Cosner who happens to be a wheel in the parking industry in Los Angeles. My contacts tell me that Parking is a perfect asset if one wants to launder ill gotten gains. I think that such an operation might been a tad too shaky for an elegant bank like Smythe and Co. Should we suggest that he show Mr. Cosner the door if he wants to do business with him?”
The room was silent. We hadn’t considered this. It would leave my old nemesis out in the cold, but it would also mean that he could continue simply without Smith’s support. I mentioned this and our CEO, his name, by the way, was St. John Smythe, wasn’t taken back a bit.
“Why not take him down at the same time we are manipulating Mr. Smith.”
“How,” I said.
“Cosner sounds like he is simply a lightweight Smith. Surely some of the same methods we are using on him could spill over and kick some mud on his galoshes. Let’s see, if we can be sure that we have all of Smith’s assets rounded up, and convince him it’s still not enough, perhaps we could impress on him that Cosner has exactly enough in the bank to seal the deal. And then let nature take its course.”
Sounded good to me.
To be continued... Return to the Summary Page - click here