Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 16.3

Knight after Knight250

In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended and for which neither was fully prepared.

A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.

Knight after Knight. Chapter sixteen, part three.

The people we had to deal with in the New Delhi office were two unrelated men with the surname Nair, Sashi was divisional manager and Gopi the accounts chief. The business was a semi-autonomous branch of Knight Trading (India) Pvt, the Kerala-based company headed by Mr Chandrasekharan. Gopi was the man in my sights; as the head of accounting, if there were any irregularities, he was the person in the best position to be behind it and if he weren’t he was certainly well placed to know about it.

Of course, he protested his innocence. I had fully expected that. His boss, Sashi Nair, supported his claimed innocence. Again, as Sashi had identified and recruited Gopi, he wouldn’t easily admit that he had made a bad choice. Whilst these interviews were taking place, Susie was delving into the accounts, both the paper and the digital versions. Hannah had opted to spend time with Susie, partly so she could learn from her new friend, but Henk and I suspected the reason to be based more on the things she and Susie already shared – age, gender and range of interests. Whilst accepting that we could never compete on that level, we were not disappointed at her decision, as it freed us to pursue our investigation in a manner that she might feel to be a little more robust than she would be comfortable with.

A full day of hard interviews revealed nothing. At the end of the session, we thanked Messrs Nair for their time and for their apparently willing co-operation and asked them to call us if they thought of anything else that might help. I called through to the office where Susie and Hannah were and spoke to Hannah.

“Good day?” I asked.

“Very,” she replied, “this forensic accountancy is fascinating, isn’t it?”

“You really think so, or are you being ironic?”

“No, Grandpa, I mean it. It looks boring at first, just digging through numbers and ledgers and computer files, but when you get into it… well, talk about absorbing!”

“That’s great. Can I talk to Susie, please?”

Susie came on the line.

“Anything?” I asked.

“Possibly. We’ve got everything we need, but now we need to go through it in detail, but I’d rather not do it here.”

“Why’s that?”

“Hannah and I need to talk to each other while we’re working, and the people in this section can pick up on what we say and may start drawing their own conclusions. So we’ll bring some papers back to the hotel with us and work on them there. I’ve copied a lot of their files onto my laptop, too.”

“Okay. I’m going to ask you a couple of questions now, and I want you to answer with a simple yes or no, and don’t look at my granddaughter whilst I’m asking. Can you do that?”

“Erm… okay.”

“Has Hannah been a nuisance or a distraction from your work?”

“No, not at all.”

“Would you say she’s been helping you; I mean really helping, not getting in the way?”

“Yes. Very much so.”

“That’s all I wanted to know. Thanks. How far are you from finishing for the day?”

“We can be ready now if you wish. We’re at a convenient point to stop.”

“Great. Let’s wind up and meet in reception. Five minutes?”

By the time Hank and I had thanked everyone whom we needed to thank and made our way to reception, the girls had already arrived. Hannah was carrying Susie’s laptop and Susie held a box of papers that looked quite heavy. I tried to take it from her, but she rejected my offer suggesting as politely as she could that a young woman of twenty-four is better placed to carry a heavy box than an old man of eighty-four. My words, not hers. She put it much more diplomatically.

Back at the hotel, we booked into one of the meeting rooms and spread our stuff out on the table. Henk’s tummy was reacting unpleasantly to the spicy food that we had eaten at lunch so he excused himself, leaving the two girls and me to go through what they had brought. Henk wasn’t a numbers man anyway. He was great in the interviews, probably better than I was, but delving through ledgers and accounts just wasn’t his forte. In fairness, I didn’t do all that much in that room, it was mainly the two girls, I only got involved when one or the other of them had found something that they thought might have interested me.

“Ooh! Look at this,” Hannah called from behind the laptop screen, waking me from my wandering thoughts. Susie and I moved around to see what she had found.

“Is that—” Susie started.

“I think so, look!” Hannah said, pointing to an entry.

“Looks okay to me,” I said, “just a large purchase of something I can’t translate, balanced by its sale the same day, at a small but useful profit.”

“Yes, it does,” she said, “but look at the dates, then look at this.” She alt-tabbed and brought up an email from an anonymous account on a local government domain to a recipient in this company. “See what I mean?” she said, “I’m sure, if we can get the times of the transactions, it won’t be buy-then-sell.”

“What do you think was going on?”

“The email could well be some kind of coded message, but I think it’s instructions for the laundering transaction. I suspect that the authority transferred some money to this account which was bounced back almost straight away, discounted by about seven-and-a-half per cent. What do you think, Susie?”

“You may have something there,” Susie said, “let’s have a look at the raw data. Pick up the transaction references then locate the files they point to.”

Hannah did that, surprising and delighting me at her prowess on the computer – I knew she was good but didn’t suspect just how good she was. The underlying data showed that the transactions were set up, parameterised and scheduled in a single operation, the actual movements taking place exactly thirty-five seconds apart, and in the order that Hannah had suspected.

“Who set up the transfers?” I asked. Susie took over the laptop and started typing furiously.

“They’ve worked hard to cover their trail,” she said, “the login they’ve used is Mr Gopi’s, but the computer it was done on wasn’t his.”

“Maybe he just did it on someone else’s computer,” I suggested.

“I don’t think so. I think someone used his login.”

“Sashi Nair?” I asked.

“It would be unusual for the head of an organisation to give his login details to someone else. It’s more likely that someone with the right technical knowledge somehow got hold of them.”

“Someone hacked his account?”

“Probably. The computer that was used to set up and initiate these transactions is one that was in the server room, allocated to the IT chief, Badreep Singh Bootha. According to the server room logs, he was the only person in the secure area during the period when the transactions were set up and actioned.”

“So you think this Bootha was responsible?”

“I do. Hannah?”

“Looks like it to me. Grandpa – it looks like we’ve identified our man,” Hannah said, with obvious satisfaction.

“Right,” I said, “Susie, can you link to the hotel’s printer and print out all the evidence? Hannah, you’ll need to stand by the printer to make sure no-one else can accidentally walk off with our stuff.”

“Let me talk to the manager, Mr Knight,” Susie said, “I’ll see if I can get him to let us use a secure, private printer.”

“Good idea.”

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