A week had passed since the destruction of Hong Kong’s Stock Market. The Korean government had requested financial relief from the IMF. Since Korea was more sensitive to the situation with Hong Kong than other countries, things were going faster by two weeks from the previous history.
There was other news. I had been certain that Jonathan would be the cover model of Forbes next month, and he did go back to New York for an interview with the magazine. He contacted me afterwards. (EN: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international financial institution, headquartered in Washington, D.C., consisting of 190 countries working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world while periodically depending on the World Bank for its resources. Forbes is an American business magazine owned by Integrated Whale Media Investments and the Forbes family. Published eight times a year, it features original articles on finance, industry, investing, and marketing topics. )
<The world’s billionaire list?>
<Yes, it seems unavoidable. However, what’s important is that they are close to us and have done a lot of research. They knew about you.>
<Not your identity. They knew about the ownership shares in Jonathan Investments.>
<Do they consider themselves the National Tax Service?!>
Forbes collected their list of the richest in the following manner. If the subject had established an undisclosed company, they listened to outside experts. If the subject is the CEO of a publicized company, they based their calculations on the stock prices at the time of research.
Also, for people who had not established companies such as athletes, they estimated the subject’s total assets based on past publicly disclosed earnings.
Starting from next year, Forbes would exclude dictators with illicit wealth and royal families. Our New York company, Jonathan Investments, belonged to the first category.
<They don’t know who I am, right?>
<There would be massive chaos then. All they know that 51% of the New York shares belong to an unidentified John Doe.>
<It’s a problem. If Forbes knows that, everyone in Wall Street has that information.>
<It’s a big problem. I’ll do my best, so your identity won’t be revealed. Don’t worry too much, since I’m hiring specialists in that field.>
<So, what was your answer to Forbes?>
<I told them that their information was accurate. Since they already knew, I couldn’t hide that from them.>
<We will be in a tough spot if they keep digging in.>
<My sentiments exactly.>
The paper companies we had separated into tax havens were not yet complete. We still had work left to do in order to make them seem actual companies rather than ghosts. If a special tax investigation came in at this time…
<You’ll still be behind the scenes as an unidentified John Doe.>
<How close are they to us?>
<They know that we are the victors of Thailand, and we had won the bet against the major global banks.>
The fact we had provoked Hong Kong, causing the crash of the Stock Market had not been discovered. It had been done by our paper companies and accomplished by our proxies. If our hands had been revealed, the end of 1997 would be screaming with the greatest financial scandal in history.
I felt pride in Jonathan, as he was still following me despite being my accomplice in the most unbelievably brazen and greatest act of financial manipulation in history, since the Dutch Tulip Mania. He went on speaking.
<They calculated the New York firm’s value 22 billion dollars. As I said, they are close. Therefore, John Doe is valued at about 11.2 billion, and I’m valued at about 10.7 billion. They will call us ranked eighteenth and twentieth.>
Jonathan became quiet, as while Forbes had listed us in the top twenty, we would be the two richest people in the world when considering the paper companies and the hidden funds in them. His silence meant that understanding.
Adolescence was a nice time to be young, as my classmates were still young even as they pretended to be old. Nations entered a crisis even when there were no gates and monsters. Would I have changed my viewpoint if I had children? Anyway, the only person who had mentioned the IMF and the foreign exchange crisis in the classroom was my homeroom teacher.
The teacher spoke about it for a while in front of immature children who only thought of girls and fights. No one was interested. I discovered the global edition of the Forbes at the newsstand in front of the office after school. Jonathan really looked like a successful investor as he smiled to the readers with his hands cupping his chin at his Wall Street desk.
Forbes had named him ‘The God of Investments,’ and had not hesitated to use the word “God”. Respected technical journals placed meaning on each word and went through editing multiple times. However, Jonathan’s interview mentioned the word “God” more than twenty times.
While this was unprecedented, no one in Wall Street would oppose Jonathan’s nickname now. A New York company had succeeded in an investment only God or a prophet could make. The New York firm’s future was brighter than ever, and the richest of the world would be beating down the doors even at this moment.
When I finished Jonathan’s interview, I heard a man’s voice next to me.
He was familiar, and that slave-like ID card around his neck made me realize the reason. He was a member of the Foreign Exchange Management Team at Daemin Bank. We had crossed each other’s paths a few times.
“He looks like your colleague.”
The man was talking about Jonathan, as he had also seen Jonathan a few times during the past few months as he had seen me.
However, things ended there. The man could not match the handsome cover model of Forbes with the shabby, often dead-tired foreign man. I just nodded and walked away and I didn’t care if he thought me a rude rookie.
I had no reason to form personal relationships with anyone in this building, and someone was waiting for me in the lobby. I recognized her in an instant, as she had the looks I requested.
She was beautiful right out of a romantic film, and her long and curvy figure could not be hidden even under the thick winter coat. She was sitting on a bench and reading a magazine, and the scene looked like a photoshoot.
The young building guards and everyone coming to the building were glancing at her. She raised her head when I stood in front of her, and I offered a handshake.
While she looked Asian, Jamie would not know Korean since she had been born and raised in America. We used English.
“I have been waiting.”
I had ordered three conditions for the person who would be the CEO of Jeonil Investments. First, she had to be recognized for her skills in a large real estate investment or counseling firm. Second, she had to be a beautiful Asian woman. The third was the important part, as I asked for someone who would let illegal transactions pass for her success. I had been looking for someone who met these conditions since August and finally found her.
While many fit the first two articles, the third was hardly something I could post in the job description. I had to find the lies in their resumes and use black money to access the trial records. In other words, she was an ex-convict who had been released recently.
She had served a short-term imprisonment for professional negligence and malpractice for looking the other way at her employer’s embezzlement, who had been the CEO of the firm.
Humans did not change even after prison. I took her to a nearby café. She walked next to me like a tourist since it was the first time she had been to Korea. She seemed to understand why she had been called to Korea and looked like she enjoyed herself as she watched the tall buildings and stores.
All the real estate in this street looked like bargain sale items at a one-time price sale to her predator’s eyes. She asked me a question when we arrived at the café.
“Is it you?”
She understood that no one else was waiting for us and sat across from me with a bright smile.
“You’re the interviewer.”
She seemed surprised that I was so young.
“I have to ask something first. Is there an internal decision to hire me, or do I have to pay attention to my competitors?”
“If this was a simple interview, I would not have paid for your business class ticket. We have decided to hire you.”
Jamie’s expression changed to one in deep thought.
“Your criminal record was not a matter of consideration.”
At my words, Jamie opened her eyes wide as if her thoughts had been read.
“We focused on your countenance and your record at Wilshire Land. We needed a beautiful Asian woman who specialized in real estate as our CEO and found someone who met our standards at a headhunting company. I believe that you will understand why your beauty was a necessary condition.”
Jamie smiled attractively instead of nodding. During her Wilshire Land years, she had taken on a huge investment project. The reason she had managed the Asian investments there had been because of her Asian beauty. She would be a strategist, and the face that will change the negative opinions that Jeonil Investments will face into positive ones.
“Your abilities are top priority, and we have confirmed that to our satisfaction.”
Jamie’s eyes shone. She could finally estimate the size of the investment firm she would go in as CEO. The scale was such that the firm had to be conscious of how the public would see it, hence the need for an attractive public face. However, I was certain that the dollars we would bring to Korea were several times more than Jamie’s estimations.
“I have not heard the company name yet.”
“It is Jeonil Investments.”
“You will focus on real estate investments?”
“You would have not heard the name before, since this is a new firm first entering Korea now. We have finished an MOU with our contacts.” (EN: A memorandum of understanding (MOU or MoU) is a formal agreement between two or more parties. Companies and organizations can use MOUs to establish official partnerships. MOUs are not legally binding but they carry a degree of seriousness and mutual respect, stronger than a gentlemen’s agreement.)
“How many employees do you have?”
“As I said, we are not established yet. You can have the team you want. Bring a team you know, hire, or buy a Korean counseling firm if you want. You will have free rein within the funds.”
As I expected, Jamie’s shoulders shook, and her slightly fisted hands on the table also trembled. This was a big chance for her, and I thought she would shout in joy as her lips opened. She quickly composed herself and asked me a question.
“Can I have the material so I can confirm?”
I took out a document folder among unnecessary middle school textbooks.
“Jeonil Investments is divided by Gold Wish, Seiram, Turors, Ichi, and Truth…”
I began to explain after naming the paper companies that were our core ones. Jamie’s hand stopped flipping pages, which was when she confirmed the funds that will go into Jeonil Investments. Her eyes shot wide open.
Unbelievable, a chance like this could not come to me. My becoming CEO for a firm like this has to be a trick. I read her mind.
“I, I have never heard of these firms before.”
Jamie’s voice shook as she pointed at the paper companies that held Jeonil Investments’ shares.
“They are officially investment firms that have been recently established.”
“They are built in the Bahamas, Bermuda, and Netherlands. This is the extent I can tell you, as I have to protect my clients’ secrets.”
I handed Jamie a fake name card of a paper company. She will understand that this was hot money, and the dollars of the rich were coming into Korea through tax havens. Well, she was not wrong.
“I will not intervene in Jeonil Investments, as I believe that you will satisfy my clients with your performance.”
I took a document out of my bag and handed it to her.
“However, there will be special orders like this one. You have to place them at top priority and have to execute them. Do so immediately when the Korean real estate market opens.”
While money was good, these were more important. They were Korean dungeons.
Edited By Userunfriendly