Banking on it
Axel made it to the Records Office an hour after it opened, and there was still a long line.
A clerk trotted up and hauled him out of line and into an office. Lots of bowing and scraping, and the whole raft of identity checks and he was handed a huge file.
"Enough copies of everything to deal with . . . everything." The nervous clerks escorted him back out as Sixty-two pulled up to the door in the small car. Which was only small by his family's standards.
I wonder who's pulling strings, and why?
Then he spotted the banner headlines.
Last Grandson of Ivan the Founder Murdered
And in slightly smaller type,
Nephew Accused in Violent Confrontation at Deathbed
"Oh God, it's starting already." Those poor clerks probably wanted the killer out of there as quickly as possible.
"Just drop me off and go home. I'll call if I need a ride home."
At the bank, the Trust Manager wasn't in yet. The accounts manager looked worried.
"Perhaps you should give him a call. If he's ill, I can . . ." Axel turned to look where the man's eyes had gone. A heavy-set man, looking upset. Executive plate.
"Mr. Mitrofan Chaykovsky?" Axel eyed the man. "I see that you've gotten the distressing news. I am Lord Axel Ivan Vinogradov. I regret having to meet you on short notice after such a shock." Sweating and pale. "In fact, I think you need to sit down." He looked back at the first fellow. "Could you have someone fetch some tea for Mr. Chaykovsky? We'll be in his office."
And find out if this is just the headlines. Or if there's a problem with the trusts.
Back in the nice, modern, efficient-looking office, Mr. Chaykovsky . . . still looked bad. And worse as more people showed up. The Bank Manager, Lord Artem Orlov, walked in, all smiles, as he shook Axel's hand, and fading as he eyed the Trusts Manager.
The other's hustled about, apologetically checking Lord Axel's identity, verifying the seals on his collection of certificates, then departing. Leaving the two managers and four accountants. All eyeing Axel.
"Mr. Chaykovsky, I've had enough people dropping dead in front of me to satisfy me for life. You look horrible. So instead of drawing this out, just tell me, before you have a heart attack or something."
The man nodded jerkily. "There's nothing seriously wrong with the any of the Trusts, it's just . . . I realized that I don't have good solid documentation on a few things."
Axel nodded and tried to keep his voice soothing. "So, what's likely to be to worst?"
"It's just . . . seven years ago, the was a really bad winter, and pipes froze, burst . . ."
Axel nodded. "I remember that. Horrible mess with the house, having to be so careful with the historical paneling when getting to the pipes and so forth. What was the problem?"
"The Trust just flat didn't have the cash on hand to pay for the repairs. It runs pretty close to the bone as it is . . . So Lord Vladimir paid for most of the repairs himself, and when the Trust had built its cash account up--it took five years--we repaid him. But it was on an invoice from him, without specific bills attached . . . and he was a bit irritated that it had taken so long . . . and I didn't ask, after five years, about documentation for what he'd actually spent."
"Oh . . . well, just because that sounds like it could have been questionable, doesn't mean there was an actual . . . overcharge." Oh like Hell there wasn't!
"But the whole thing, the original 'I'll pay for it, and the Trust can repay me' agreement was all verbal." The poor man was shivering.
"Ah. Well, as I go through all my Uncle's records, I'll look for the receipts for repairs, and hopefully we'll find enough to be close to the repayment amount and can accept the rest on faith."
My ass. I wonder just how much Dear Uncle managed to liberate from the Historical Trust. And I wonder if I haven't over-estimated the Family Trust? I hope to hell they haven't been living on the principle.
"So, with that over, please take a deep breath and let's take a look at the state of the Trusts. Let's do the Historical Trust first . . ."
It took hours. They sent out for lunch and worked though it. Everyone looked surprised that he knew anything about finances and law. That he spotted all the minor irregularities. That he spotted his Trust's annual summary being manipulated, picking stock price highs, rather than price at closing to manipulate the annual payouts.
"Bloody stupid, you only get a boost the first time you do that. And you slow the growth of the portfolio, so you're cutting future payouts." Axel shook his head. Did Uncle Vladimir need money two years ago? Why? He'd just gotten the Historical Trust repayment.
The Family Trust was dismaying. But at least not disastrous.
"And they were making up for shortfalls in the income by occasionally dipping into the principle, and not building it back up later?" Axel shook his head. "Andre and Nikloi are not going to like this news at all."
Lord Vladimir's personal accounts were moderately impressive, with several large payouts he was going to have to track down. Half a million to "V and V Business Rentals" What the hell?
He finally got to the end, with everyone there looking relieved after the series of shocks.
Axel stood up. "Thank you gentlemen, for this unfortunately necessary examination. There doesn't look to be anything worse than a bit of sloppy records keeping, a bit of spite, and some unwise financial decisions. However, because my cousins, distressed by their father's death, spoke unwisely while in an over-emotional state, there will be a police investigation."
An uneasy stir.
"Well, given Uncle Vladimir's prominence, most likely there would have been one anyway. In any case, if they show up and want information, or to audit the entire collection of Trusts . . . Ask to see their warrants, then cooperate fully and completely. Refer them to me, as needed. I'll be trying to fill in the holes in the documentation."
He looked over at Mr. Chaykovsky. "You're looking better, but it's been a very stressful day for you. Will you please go see a doctor? Right now?" He looked back at the Bank Manager. "You can ream him after his doctor has cleared him for it. But really, even if I can't account for the repairs at all, it's less than five percent of the portfolio, and barely more than a percent of the whole trust. I'm frankly relieved the Historical Trust is sound. And I'll work with Andre and Nikoli about the Family trust situation. As Andre and Nikoli are just three months away from their majority, no doubt we'll be splitting Uncle Vladimir's Trust soon. Mine? I expected spite, and I'm glad to see that my father and his lawyer managed to keep it to that.
"Thank you all for spending a rather harrowing day dealing with all this."
Holy crap, I need a drink!
He thought it over, and instead of calling for a limo, like a proper Mentalist Lord, he caught a cab to a different grocery store, bought a healthy snack, a gallon of ice cream and hiked for home.
Half a mile away his watch vibrated a warning. He punched the code for specifics-- intruder outside attempting illegal entry, caller at the front door, observer on the street . . .
Police? Or a criminal gang?