Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 16.4

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 four.

After briefing Henk at breakfast the following morning, all four of us joined Sashi in his office. When we told him we had evidence of wrongdoing in his organisation, he called Gopi and had him join us.

Unknown to me, subsequent to discovering the issue, Susie and Hannah had spent a couple of hours preparing a detailed and well-argued presentation. As soon as we were all seated around Sashi’s mini-conference table, Susie said, “May I?”, connected her laptop to the small projector and fired up the presentation I didn’t even know existed. We all watched in silence as she flipped the slides and documents, and she and Hannah explained what we were seeing. Once the presentation was over, Sashi pressed the intercom button on his desk and told his assistant to instruct the IT chief to report to his office immediately and to have the security team standing by.

Badreep Singh Bootha entered the room and was instructed to take a seat. Susie and Hannah repeated their presentation whilst Badreep sat in shocked silence.

“You can explain thins?” Sashi Nair asked.

“Of course, Mr Sashi. I made a profit for the company. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do?”

“You, Mr Bootha, are charged with maintaining and supporting this company’s IT infrastructure. You have no authority to conduct financial transactions beyond those necessary to fulfil your role. You are certainly not authorised to undertake blatant money-laundering on company time and using our equipment, leaving this organisation liable to large fines and sanctions.”

“You don’t understand. It’s not like that. And who are these people, anyway?”

“Forgive me, Badreep, I didn’t introduce you. This young woman is Susie Weston, a forensic accountant from Knight Global head office; this gentleman,” he extended a hand towards Henk, “is Henk Overbock, previously Chief Operating Officer of Knight Global, now an independent consultant, as is the other gentleman, Mr Hannice Knight—”

“The Hannice Knight?”

“The very same. Previously its Chairman and CEO, Mr Knight is now also an independent consultant for Knight Global. The other young lady is Mr Knight’s granddaughter, Hannah. Her father is—”

“I know. Mr David Knight, Chairman and CEO.”

“Correct. Now tell us, please, if it’s not like that, what is it like? And bear in mind that we are recording this interview.”

“I had no choice. I had to do it. They threatened my family.”

“But you’re not married. You are an only child and your parents are both at rest. Or were you lying about that?”

“No, that’s all true.”

Henk and I had been quietly listening so far, but Henk clearly felt he needed to get involved.

“Let me see if I have this straight. You are an only child and your parents are both at rest. That means you have no children, no siblings and no parents. Who, then, is being threatened and by whom?”

“With respect, Mr Overbock, you don’t understand our culture. Our family doesn’t stop at one degree. I have a cousin who is highly placed with the local government. She is in line for a big promotion, but her boss said that she wouldn’t get that promotion unless she persuaded me to help him clean up some money that had come his way.”

“And that was enough to cause you to break the law?”

“It wasn’t just the promotion.”

“What else?” Sash asked.

“He said that if she didn’t do as he asked, he’d sack her and make sure no-one else would give her a job. Her husband died last year without any insurance or compensation, and she’s bringing up three kids on her own. Without that job or another job, she and her kids would starve. I had to help her.”

“Well, Badreep Singh Bootha,” Sashi Nair said, “your cousin still has a job, which is a good thing, by all accounts. Such a pity you don’t.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean clear your desk and get out.”

“You can’t sack me.”

“Can’t I? Silly me, I thought I just had. Help me here – why can’t I sack you?”

“Because without me, this company won’t survive. I am the only one who knows how to keep all this stuff working. It’ll collapse within a week.”

“Let me put the position to you, Mr Bootha. Either you clear your desk and leave now – and don’t worry, I’ll have security with you to make sure you don’t try to do anything that could put the business in jeopardy – or I hand you and this evidence to the police. Your choice.”

“But—”

“Decide now.”

“You’ll have to pay me redundancy, you know.”

“Sorry. You’re dismissed with cause. No redundancy, no holiday pay, no nothing.”

Sashi called the two security men in and instructed them to accompany the ex-IT chief to his office, where he was to collect only his personal possessions and then leave the building. He told them to collect his keys and to make sure he didn’t take or even touch any IT equipment.

“Before you take him,” he said then, turning to Badreep, “empty your pockets onto my desk, please.”

“You can’t—”

“Do it!”

He emptied his pockets. Gopi moved two memory sticks and a notepad away from the rest of Badreep’s possessions.

“Pick the rest up and go with these men.”

Once they’d left the office, the two Mr Nairs thanked us profusely. When we told them there was no charge for our services, and that our expenses had been covered by head office, they generously offered to extend our stay in the area and cover the cost of a guided tour of the Golden Triangle. We all accepted with gratitude. All, that is, except Susie Weston.

“I should get back to work,” she said, “I don’t have enough holiday for these extra days.”

“They don’t need to know you’re not working,” I said, “you’re seconded to Henk and me.”

“But I’d still know.”

“I commend you on your honesty, Susie, I really do. However, Hannah won’t enjoy the trip as much if you aren’t with us, so I’d prefer you to come along.”

“Okay, Mr Knight. Will I be able to draw forward some holiday from next year’s allowance?”

“You won’t need to do that. I’ll call my son and have him square it with your boss. As far as the firm is concerned, you’re coming with us to continue helping Hannah with her business studies.”

“But I won’t be,” she objected.

“Oh yes you will,” Hannah said, “You don’t get off that easily.”

“Mr Nair, Mr Nair,” I said, addressing them both, “we accept your very kind offer. Thank you.”

“No, thank you,” Sashi said, “We owe you much more than that. I’ll have my assistant set up the tours and the guide will contact you at your hotel.”

And that’s exactly what happened. And we all had a good time.

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