The scene :
A late evening in a plush boardroom on the 54th floor in Lower Manhattan. A dozen portly businessmen are seated around the huge table, where the remains of a large dinner have been replaced by a collection of rare whiskies. At the head of the table, a balding, corpulent man interrupts the others:
— Now then Gentlemen, enough banter, we have a problem. Anyone want a splash of this 50 year-old Midleton? I had a case flown in from Dublin last week, it’s awfully rare.
Who’s got the cigars? Richard, we all know what a kike you are, but pass the box along, there’s a good chap.
So, if you’re all comfortably pickled, let’s get down to business. Where’s Peter?
— In the john, I think the oysters disagreed with him.
— I see. Why is that Finance Directors are always absent when you need them?
[he pauses to finish lighting his cigar]
As I was saying, we have a problem, and a serious one: the SEC is on our ass, with a vengeance.
These chocolates really are sublime, are they not?
My assistant has calculated that we’ve ripped off about 50 million investors with these… what are they called? Structured derivations?
— “Derivatives”, Lloyd
— Yes, derivatives, whatever, for billions of dollars, that John-Alfred has siphoned off to Switzerland.
— Fucking Swiss, it’s always their fault, with their banking secrecy.
— Stop kvetching Charles, you bloody hypocrite, we all know where you’ve stashed your booty. I won’t remind you of those stock options that materialized on your Zurich account last year now, shall I?
No, we have to choose somebody who’s going to carry the can.
[a long silence ensues]
— Don’t be silly now, I wasn’t suggesting anybody in the top management, we’ll trim back the bonuses in the lower echelons, not here.
No, we need some miserable klutz, preferably someone that nobody here knows, so that we can plead ignorance, and throw the creep out on the street for a public sacrifice.
Richard, you’re good in the sniveling role, you can go on CNN and cry how ashamed we all are, when the word gets out.
— Yes, Lloyd, but who?
— How should I know? Surely one of you must have an insubordinate little rat that you’re dying to get rid of? You know, the nerdy type, with big glasses, who can’t lace his own shoes, disconnected from reality. Ideal for a little crying with Richard. C’mon, give me a name.
— But Lloyd, we don’t know the employees, we barely speak to them, everything’s done by email. Most of mine, I don’t even know where their offices are.
— So it’s up to me to fix things, as usual. Charles, pass me that PC. Where’s the H.R. page? Ah, here. Let me see now.
God, where do you hire these people? They all look like retards. Hasn’t somebody given H.R. instructions not to hire hicks? OK, I’ll click randomly. Here we are, Jay Ratlivich, a nasty-sounding name and he looks the part. What do you think?
— He’s in facilities management Lloyd. Difficult to pin something on him.
— Which hardly facilitates my task. Alright, how about this one, Mustafa Albariz, terrorist overtones, he’ll do.
— Hardly Lloyd, he’s in agricultural finance. He deals in manure, not credit default swaps.
— Pass back the whiskey would you Richard? Alright, my final offer, this one looks ideal, Fabrice Tourre. Ah, a trader, they’re like arrogant hamsters on methedrine that lot. And he’s French to boot, perfect, the frogs are always fucking things up.
— But Lloyd, he’s only 28, they’ll never believe we let someone so young play with billions.
— Charles, two years ago, you’d never have believed we’d have a black President. It’s simply a question of manipulating the press. We’re doing God’s work, if it’s good enough for Him, it’s good enough for us.
Porter, this is right up your street. Get your I.T. guys to siphon off all his emails and dress them up to incriminate the little bastard completely. Then leak the whole lot to press, you know the ropes. Whilst you’re at it, credit a couple of million to his account, back-dated to last June; we’ll leak his bank statement when the shit hits the fan.
That’s settled then. Fiddle the I.T. records, prepare a press statement, media plan, the usual stuff. Oh, and we’d better announce some layoffs. Charles, make sure the severance payments and restructuring charges are completely tax-deductible. Whilst you’re at it, announce that we won’t be paying a dividend this year, teach those shareholder assholes a lesson. I want all that on my desk first thing in the morning.
Anyone for a drop of this 1984 Dom Perignon to celebrate? It really is the best year in the cellar.
(Adapted from the original French article on www.boursorama.com)