The Maltese Cat is officially a business consultant. In actuality, he has been involved in corporate espionage for most of his career. He targets corrupt businessmen and politicians and makes a handsome living out of correcting their inequities.
“Escheatment”, Book 1 in the Maltese Cat Book Series continues with new adventures. Enjoy:
Chapters 1 & 2, 3 & 4, 5 & 6, 7 & 8, 9 & 10, Chapter 11,
Chapters 12 & 13, 14-16, 17, 18, Chapters 19 & 20,
Chapter 21, 22 & 23, 24, 25, 26, Chapters 27-29
Chapter 30, 31-32, 33-34, chapters 35 & 36,
Chapters 37-39, 40-41, chapters 42-43, 44-45, chapters 46-47
Chapters 48-49, 50-51, chapters 52-53.
The Boys Club Sails for the Turks & Caicos Islands
The Boys Club had been looking forward to the Caribbean trip for quite awhile. They had planned it for months and now, at the end of August, they all flew down to Miami where their yacht, the Intrepid, would meet them. James had organized the entire party. He had sent the Intrepid and its skipper and crew of three out of the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco three weeks in advance. It now awaited the private party in Miami at the Resort at Fisher Island Club. The crew moored the Intrepid there and slept onboard.
James had purposely not invited Donna on this trip. He had become more distant to her in the last weeks. Somehow, he was feeling like the BB King song: The Thrill Is Gone. The other boys had all invited young women to accompany them on this outing. Carter, of course, had taken his girlfriend, Jan, with him onboard. The women were excited, if not a bit frivolous. Their selection was not based on the girls’ intellects. They were there because the boys needed entertainment. James figured that he would find someone along the way.
The boys and their party had taken a private jet from San Francisco to Miami. At the airport in Miami a helicopter was waiting for them and flew them the short distance to Fisher Island. The establishment was a 45-room hotel located among homes of the super-rich on a lush, private island. It didn’t offer the dazzling night life and clubs of the mainland but it was a cozy getaway with tennis courts and a 9-hole golf course. James had chosen it for its exclusivity.
The group decided to pay a visit to their yacht on the day of their arrival. James had arranged for the yacht to put into port here instead of his former plan of picking it up in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The Intrepid was a 105-foot schooner outfitted with an auxiliary diesel motor. It had six master bedrooms, enough for the Boys Club and their guests, as well as quarters for the skipper and crew. The sides of the hull were painted a glossy white with a thin turquoise racing stripe running around the ship above the waterline. The decks were polished and stained mahogany. There was more than sufficient room for sunning on the spacious decks. James had discovered the vessel through a contact and had leased the ship earlier in the year when the Boys Club’s finances were starting to grow in their second consecutive profitable year. For his ego, he kept it berthed in San Francisco and took delight it exhibiting it to friends and admirers alike, presenting it as his own, private yacht. The other boys did the same, so no one minded paying the exorbitant maintenance fees. Ego had its price.
After two days on the island, the Boys Club set out for the first leg of their journey. James was anxious to get going since he had not found an acceptable companion so far. He had rejected the idea of cruising the clubs in Miami. He considered the idea simply meretricious. But he was disappointed in his search on Fisher Island. An acquaintance, who lived there in a stately villa, had assured James that he would be throwing a large, wild party on the day after the Boys Club’s arrival, but his friend had not made good on his promise.
The ship headed on a course southeast towards the Bahamas. This was all the British West Indies, as was their final destination as well. They put ashore in Nassau. While the other boys and their girlfriends frolicked in the water, either snorkeling or scuba diving, James went on the hunt. He frequented the beaches, the spas, the hotels, and even allowed himself to check over the passengers on the cruise ships, hoping to snare some young nymph. All in vain, although he did see one attractive young man who he was convinced had taken an interest in him. This was strictly off base, though, and James would not allow himself that treat in the presence of the other boys, even if he did have pleasant daydreams about the lost prospect for weeks after the encounter. After two days, James made up his mind that, if the urge arose, he would just charm his way into sleeping with one of the four girls his friends had brought along. It wouldn’t have been the first time. Who knows? Maybe Donna had been doing the same with the others. Jan seemed to take an interest in him. All would be forgiven and the Boys Club would stick together, as they always had.
The group sailed on to the next island and visited the West Side National Park. Without the stress of finding a partner, James relaxed scuba diving with his friends while the girls either stayed onboard the yacht or sunbathed on the beaches. The project that James had constructed, collecting dormant accounts and sending them to the State government, only to be forwarded to his Swiss bank and further, had now been in operation for somewhat over two years. Everything had functioned smoothly and he had maintained as little contact with Michael Clary as possible. He knew that Michael was a weak link in the chain and could break under pressure at any time, revealing his role in it all. He had noticed the increasing stress in Clary’s voice on the few times that they had spoken. James’s plan was to finish off everything at the end of this year. The Boys Club had enough money, for now. Michael Clary could go back to his dull, little job with no more pressure from James. In fact, on their last call, James had promised this to Clary and the civil servant had sounded relieved. James would seek out new ways to delay the transfers of the unclaimed property accounts at the company in order to avoid handing them over to the State. His father would notice his success in retaining more accounts than in the previous years and would be proud of his son. James felt pleased with himself. He could finally enjoy the fruits of his labors, perhaps even retire down here somewhere, someday. He had lived an enjoyable life the past two years, with the help of his additional income. Now he looked forward to taking charge of the wealth that he had amassed and investing it for growth. He could build a new empire, just as his father and grandfather did before him. With capital in the Turks & Caicos bank, his possibilities appeared limitless. James relaxed in the warm Caribbean waters, soaking in the natural beauty of the islands, and dreamed of new conquests.
The Intrepid set sail once again, continuing on its southeast course. Over evening nightcaps, the boys ruminated aloud about the island of Cuba which lay south of them and how, perhaps one day when the sanctions were dropped, they could invade the island and create massive amounts of wealth similar to that which existed before Castro took over. Perhaps they would invest in rum and cigars. The West had not had either of those for over 50 years; at least, not in the United States. Fidel was old and senile and his brother, Raul, was also no longer young. It would just be a matter of time until Cuba opened up. The boys even discussed the possibility of a casino. Gambling was popular during Batista’s time, before Castro. The boys knew, however, that the heavyweights in Las Vegas could steamroll them and that maybe they should set their sights a little lower.
The Intrepid coursed its way through the various islands that it encountered. On a whim, and at the suggestion of Ashton Price’s companion, James had the skipper set a new course northward to Cat Island. The group had time. They were not on a strict schedule. Laurette, Ashton’s friend, had described Cat Island as a paradise, although she had never personally been there. They spent a couple of days there, and then they continued southeast, along Long Island and Crooked Island, on to the Turks & Caicos. By the time they had these islands in sight all of the boys were excited. Each of them knew approximately how much money they had there, even if it was only James who had the exact calculations and the bank information.
The Intrepid put into port at Providenciales, known to the locals as Provo. It was not the capital. Cockburn was, located on another island. But Providenciales was the town with the largest population in the islands. The yacht had sailed about 1,000 kilometers from Miami. The islands were beautiful in their own right, with expansive white, sandy beaches and a plethora of underwater fauna, but this was not the reason that the Boys Club had chosen it as their destination. The Turks & Caicos Islands were a well known Offshore Financial Center or OFC. Recognized by the International Monetary Fund, an IMF paper described OFCs as “a country or jurisdiction that provides financial services to nonresidents on a scale that is incommensurate with the size and the financing of its domestic economy.” Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine described them thus, “An offshore financial centre may itself be defined as a regime which has chosen as a main or important path to development, legislative, financial and business infrastructure which is more flexible than orthodox infrastructure and which caters more specifically, and often exclusively, to the needs of non-resident investors … this legislative framework includes innovations in trust, banking, fiscal, insurance, financial and company law.” In other words, the Turks and Caicos Islands had financial institutions where you could hide your money.
When James first devised his plan to recover the money that the state escheated, he remembered a friend of his father’s whom he met at home when James was a teenager. The man was introduced as a prominent Swiss banker. When James finally tracked him down, he discovered that the man no longer worked at the bank. Instead, he ran a private investment house and used his old bank for many of his transactions. James requested a Swiss bank account. The man told him this was not possible as an American. James insisted on a numbered account. Everyone knew that these accounts existed and then it would be irrelevant if he were an American citizen or not. He would be just a number. The man said that was also not possible and suggested some arrangement in which James would entrust him with the money. This was not going to happen. Too much was at stake to allow someone else to control the money. Once James explained how much money he was expecting to transfer, the man said he would see what he could do. James had also heard of offshore accounts in tax havens in the Caribbean and expressed his desire for this. There had been too many breaches in the once famous Swiss bank secrecy in the past years involving the Swiss giving up information to other governments, including to the United States. James did not want to get caught and he did not trust the Swiss entirely. A Cayman Islands account or maybe a Turks & Caicos bank account would perhaps work, coupled together with an offshore company or two. The man said that he could arrange this. James felt satisfied when he ended his call with the man. His father had said the man was an extremely shrewd banker who was inventive and reliable. The man’s name was Bernard Egli.