Calculating Nemesis - Cover

Calculating Nemesis

Copyright© 2010 by Texrep

Chapter 4

I had two computers in my office. The main one on which I worked my magic with accounts had never been connected to the internet. The wireless receiver had even been removed. I knew enough from Frank and the others how easy it was to hack into a computer. I had a second machine to access the internet. The Companies House web site gave me a lot of information about Bennington's company, including the last year's accounts. These are abbreviated accounts but quite useful if you knew how to read them. After a general overview I looked at the contingency fund. Any well run company would have such a fund. It was in essence the company's private piggy bank. In good years you would place a surplus in the contingency. As this reduced net profit and was not declared for dividends it wouldn't come into the calculation for Corporation Tax. In bad years you would use the contingency to cover the lower or non-existent profit and still allow the company to declare a dividend. The other reason for it was the sudden and unforeseen need for quick capital. Many accountants would tell you that the contingency fund was an indicator of the company's health. Although Elwin Dax & Co. had declared a modest profit year on year, the contingency fund was negligible. Interesting I thought. Either the contingency had been used to bolster profits and was now almost empty, or it had never been healthy at all. I then pulled up the Dunn and Bradstreet site. You have to be registered to enter and Accountants are always registered with D. & B. They word their reports very carefully pointing out that their summary is based on available data and should not be taken as evidence as to the financial health of the company. Accountants can read between the lines and their report on Elwin Dax & Co. was not encouraging. Further investigation was required, but for that I would have to go to Companies House. What I was looking for was not available on the internet.

I went straight to Companies House the next day, returning to my office late morning. For the first time in the last few weeks I was happy. I had determined to bring Bennington down and I was delighted that he was helping me in that endeavour. I suppose you could say that once a Shit always a Shit, and Bennington was indeed a Shit. I had got some interesting facts, and although they didn't show false accounting, they indicated that perhaps that was happening. I left a message for Vin. I had another job for him.

He called that afternoon.

"Is there something I could help you with, Mr. Martin?"

"Yes. Vin. Would you go up to Chelmsford and watch the Company where my wife worked."

"What am I looking for?"

"I want you to note down the registration numbers of their goods vehicles. I doubt that you can get them all as they have about twenty five and they go all over the country. But if you could get a good proportion of them, that should suffice."

"Yes I can do that. Two or three days should do it."

"That's what I thought."

"Do you want to find out who they are registered to?" I was impressed. Vin wasn't stupid.

"You're ahead of me. Yes, I do."

"Leave it with me Mr. Martin. I'll get back to you in three or four days."

My suspicions had been alerted by the depreciation of the fleet. The claims were in line with the guidelines issued by H.M. Customs and Revenue, but there was no mention of capital expenditure on those vehicles in the capital account, then there was posted an almost similar amount for servicing every year. Now these trucks cost a lot of money and as they age their servicing costs go up. The indication was that no new trucks had been purchased and they had an aging fleet. But the servicing costs remained unaltered. I smelt a rat and that rat's name was Bennington.

My days returned to normal, relatively speaking. Back in Abbess Roding my nights were my personal slough of despond. We had always had a cleaning lady who came in twice a week, so even after a few days Lily's perfume was no longer hanging in the air. Yet still there was so much to remind me of her. I would walk into a room and see a picture on the wall. One she had chosen with me and my eyes would moisten. The linen on my bed, washed, dried and pressed, was a pattern that Lily had admired and bought. I would look at them and see us together, nakedly embracing, loving each other, joined together in that most intimate of moments that lovers share. Yet again I would succumb to anger, cursing her and Bennington for ruining something that was almost perfect. Then I would feel guilty for cursing Lily. I loved her, and that was a burden I would suffer for the rest of my life.

Vin came up with the goods. A list of vehicle numbers. He had eighteen of them, and the best thing of all? They were all registered to a Leasing Company. Bennington and his crooked company secretary, who had to be in on this, was claiming depreciation and servicing on vehicles the company didn't own. What else were they up to? I was sure they had other scams going but I didn't really have the time to go looking. This scam was false accounting and deserved a gaol sentence. Therein lay a problem. I could report this to the Inland Revenue, but the less I had to do with those worthies the better. They are a suspicious lot and they would wonder why I was looking into a company to which I had no connection. Would they in their turn take a look at me? My accounts were good, but there was always the possibility that they could get lucky. Vin added some unasked for information.

"Your wife is no longer working there, Mr. Martin." Did that please me? I wondered.

I needed documentary proof that the vehicles were owned by the leasing company. I wrote to them posing as an outside auditor saying that the copy of the agreement sent to me had been inadvertently shredded by one of my staff and I felt too embarrassed to ask Elwin Dax for another copy. Two weeks later I had the copy, listing all the vehicles that were covered by the agreement.

I had researched the company. There are many internet sites where you could get information, I had to access quite a few before I put together the picture. Founded in eighteen ninety-seven to ship milled grain from rural Essex to the bakeries in London it had led a profitable but unspectacular existence. Just after the First World War it had taken advantage of the huge numbers of ex-army goods vehicles being sold off cheaply to expand into general parcel traffic. The grain business had withered over the years and today their operation was as general hauliers and warehousing. It had never changed its corporate status, and today the shareholders were comprised mainly of descendents of Elwin Dax. Whereas once the shares were held in entirety by three people, the children of the founder, today they had devolved to some twenty two descendents, all owning less than ten percent of the shares, apart from two who together held just over thirty percent. Those two were also listed as Directors. A plan was coming to my mind. I wondered how much acumen those two Directors could boast. One was Lieutenant-General (retd.) A.R. Stanley and the other was a Mrs. T.B. Dax. The other directors were Bennington himself and a J.M. Chambers who was Company Secretary. Did the General and Mrs. Dax understand that as Directors they were legally responsible for the accuracy of the Company Accounts as submitted to the Inland Revenue and Companies House? I doubted that. Did they also understand that as an asset that bolstered the profitability wasn't an asset, the Company could be said to be trading while insolvent. A criminal offence.

Now what was I going to do with my knowledge? I would talk to Frank as I thought there was an opportunity for his getting an enterprise that could be profitable for very little outlay. He was dubious at first.

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