Each of the guilds owned by the Eight Evils and the Eight Virtues had their own territory in East Asia, North America, and Europe. Tax havens were like that too. Wall Street’s elite funds, such as hedge funds, were in the Caymans, the offshore insurance and reinsurance funds were in Bermuda, and terrorism and Columbia drug traffickers’ money were in Panama and Nevada. Latin American gang and crime funds were in Florida, European securities firm funds were in Ireland and Luxembourg, and Asian funds were in Hong Kong. Last but not least, most of the European funds were in Switzerland and the British royal islands such as Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.
The larger the amount of funds, the more tax havens were used. However, it didn’t deviate significantly from the above structure since tax havens were usually chosen according to the purpose of use. Therefore, Carl, an old agent who introduced himself as a ‘villain’ recommended Switzerland with a smile. However, his office didn’t jive with the image of a villain. It had a hundred eighty-degree panoramic view, and he was sitting behind a window with a beautiful view of Central Park.
“The view from my office is my second favorite thing, and one that I’m proud of. Isn’t it peaceful? New York is such a competitive city, but we can find peace in Central Park. That’s why I recommend Switzerland, as the country is Europe's Central Park,” Carl said as he stared at the window with me.
“They have deep tradition and history, and Switzerland is one of the countries that is not influenced by global politics and will remain neutral even if World War Three happens. Safety is the best,” he continued explaining.
In the meantime, he had requested seven million dollars to establish the company by proxy and five million dollars for annual maintenance.
“It would only take one day,” Carl said.
Money was not a problem.
I responded firmly, “My clients are determined to build the firm on the Isle of Man.”
When my stance didn’t change, Carl quickly changed directions.
“Do as you please. All I’m doing is to build long-term trust,” he replied.
That was true. There were a number of tax havens worldwide, but Switzerland was famous for being the most secretive. However, that was until 1997. It was currently 1998, and this was the year when the Holocaust problem arose unexpectedly. Not only was there a hullabaloo about the dormant funds of the Jewish victims, but there was also the controversy of the laundering of Nazi funds. Basically, it was a scenario that sounded like it had come out of a bad novel. As a result, the Swiss banks were under attack and they surrendered to the passive public outcry.
That was the real reason why I came to Carl’s office. In my past life, around this time, the documents that caused Swiss banks to succumb came from this office.
Jonathan had been worried that billions of dollars of offshore funds would be discovered, and we would be imprisoned for the rest of our lives. However, there was only a one percent chance it would happen. To be safe, I had come to Carl’s office to nullify even that tiny percentage. The last broker who handled our offshore funds was Carl.
When I put my briefcase on the table, Carl looked deeply interested in it. Then, I got up and quietly locked the office door, which alarmed Carl. It didn’t take long for him to get on his phone and immediately yell out the name of someone, likely his secretary’s. However, he was the only one in the office, and I had deliberately made an appointment during lunchtime for that reason.
“Why are you so frightened?”
I asked shamelessly and approached Carl. I slowly yet forcefully took away his phone. It was no use for him to try resisting because the phone slid from his fingers when our eyes met. His eyes were filled with fear. Most people had those eyes when they faced monsters in the Trial Tests, and Carl had seen a monster in me for a bit.
I smoothly said, “I just want to have a conversation without anyone’s interference. More confidential.”
Carl didn’t open his mouth. He must have calculated how to safely escape the room as he was avoiding my eyes and glancing through the office. His eyes lingered on his fountain pen on the desk and the computer keyboard. Stabbing a person’s neck with a pen took courage rather than skills. Then, his eyes stopped at the briefcase containing one million dollars in bearer bonds that I brought with me.
His mouth opened then.
“Do you belong to a gang?”
The answer was obviously no. Even terrorists, gangs and drug traffickers acted like a Wall Street financial manager in an agent’s office. It was difficult to recognize them for who they actually were when they were in a place like this. Carl would have only met clients with neat suits who talked about big money and maintained a polite manner, like those who worked in the banks across the street.
Carl seemed confused when I smiled and acted like nothing had happened after I stopped him from calling his secretary. I had actually returned to my seat and sat calmly.
“Do you also deal with gang money?” I asked.
Carl’s trembling eyes came back to normal at my words.
“Tell me what you want, and stop scaring me for nothing,” he admitted that he was weaker than me.
While he was as tall and big as me, he had probably given up on physically fighting against me due to his age.
I showed him the million in bearer bonds.
“That’s the price of using your computer,” I said while looking at the bonds.
Carl had no idea what I was talking about, but then widened his eyes.
He sputtered, “This is a problem. I know what you’re looking for, but we don’t have it. We prioritize the confidentiality of our clients…”
I stood up again, and the room suddenly became tense.
“L…Like Swiss banks!” Carl shouted hurriedly.
He didn’t move as if he was protecting the computer. I was looking down on him, and he was looking up at me.
“Move,” my cold voice echoed through the room.
It was no laughing matter that politicians who used to be soldiers had power in the Korean National Assembly because violence in unexpected places could be as effective as it was surprising. Carl had never been exposed to such aggression, but the situation was occurring in his office. While he had to protect his computer at all costs, he ended up moving.
Then, his next resistance was an obvious bluff.
“Only the secretary knows the passwords. This is too much. I swear on my family that what you’re looking for doesn’t exist in this world.”
Stupid Carl. He would have told me the passwords if I put a knife on his throat. But I didn’t need to do that. Instead, I put in the CD that I brought with me and solved the password in front of him. The password cracker program acted like the Awakened attacking a boss monster.
Carl’s face turned pale. It was not only because I cracked the password but also because the screen revealed the folders for each year and files with clients’ names.
“I…I really didn’t know about this,” his voice trembled.
I gestured at him to stay quiet and pointed to the corner of the room.
“Do you want it all gone? Shut up,” I warned Carl when he still resisted.
He must have noticed that I still maintained a polite manner. Carl stood in front of a distant bookshelf. He could have unlocked the door and called the police, but he couldn’t because the federal agents would come rushing in if he did so. Then, prosecutors would find evidence of his clients violating the RICO laws. Carl spoke in a trembling voice as if he had imagined the office filled with federal police officers.
“Tell me what you want, and I’ll help you. Just tell me.”
That was funny because he wouldn’t have known even if I told him. Those with money, including myself, were careful when using agents as a proxy. The files Carl categorized by client names were business firms that already existed in tax havens with a hundred percent chance. They were companies where no one knew who the real CEO was. Carl didn’t know whose funds he was managing. I also didn’t know the names of every paper company. Even if the Holocaust incident broke out, it would be impossible for the government to discover everything about my paper companies. However, it was still against my nature not to tidy things if I knew there were any traces left.
“I told you I wanted to have Thai food.”
“But it was delicious.”
It was getting noisy outside the door as Carl’s employees were returning from lunch. Carl knew what he had to do to survive. When I nodded, he went out and came back. There was no connection between the phones outside and inside the office, so we didn’t have to worry about being disturbed by phone calls. Carl also notified his staff that he was having a meeting with a valuable client.
I deleted the relevant documents and the computer log files recording the erasure. It was getting dark outside the window when I finished the work, and Carl had stopped pacing and was seated, waiting for me.
“I wasted a day because of you. Secrets? That’s ridiculous.”
I stood up with those words, and Carl quickly rose to his feet with an exhausted look.
“...Take this,” he said.
He was talking about the bearer bonds in the briefcase. I had not fixed the price randomly since a million dollars would be his average earning per project.
“Keep it. Today is not the end,” I said.
“What…” he mumbled.
“If it’s too much of a burden, keep it as a down payment. Finish establishing an investment firm on the Isle of Man,” I said.
These brokers always left behind evidence, and I couldn’t make a fuss every time. It would be better to just buy this place.