Read Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less Online

Authors: Jeffrey Archer

Tags: #Securities fraud, #Mystery & Detective, #Revenge, #General, #Psychological, #Swindlers and swindling, #Suspense, #Thrillers, #Suspense fiction, #Fiction, #Extortion

Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less

BOOK: Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less
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Not a Penny More, Not a Penny
Less

 

by

 

Jeffrey Archer

Prologue


J
örg, expect seven million
dollars from Credit Parisien in the Number Two account by six o’clock tonight,
Central European time, and place it overnight with first-class banks and triple
‘A’ commercial names. Otherwise, invest it in the overnight Euro dollar market.
Understood?”

“Yes, Harvey.”

“Place one million dollars in the Banco do
Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, in the names of Silverstein and Elliott and
cancel the call loan at Barclays Bank, Lombard Street. Understood?”

“Yes, Harvey.”

“Buy gold on my commodity account until you
reach ten million dollars and then hold until you receive further instructions.
Try and buy in the troughs and don’t rush–be patient. Understood?”

“Yes, Harvey.”

Harvey Metcalfe realised the last comment
was unnecessary. Jörg Birrer was one of the most conservative bankers in Zurich
and, which was more important to Harvey, had over the past twenty-five years
proved to be one of the shrewdest.

“Can you join me at Wimbledon on Tuesday,
June twenty-fifth, at two o’clock, Centre Court, my usual debenture seat?”

“Yes, Harvey.”

The telephone clicked into place. Harvey
never said good-bye. He did not understand the niceties of life and it was too
late to start learning now. He picked up the phone and dialled the seven digits
which would give him The Lincoln Trust in Boston, and asked for his secretary.

“Miss Fish?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Look out the file on Discovery Oil and
destroy it. Destroy any correspondence connected with it and leave absolutely
no trace. Understood?”

“Yes, sir.”

The telephone clicked again. Harvey Metcalfe
had given similar orders three times in the last twenty-five years and by now
Miss Fish had learnt not to question him.

Harvey breathed deeply, almost a sigh, a
quiet exhalation of triumph. He was now worth at least $25 million and nothing
could stop him. He opened a bottle of Krug champagne 1964, imported by Hedges
& Butler of London. He sipped it slowly and lit a Romeo y Julieta Churchill,
which were smuggled in for him in boxes of two hundred and fifty once a month
from Cuba by an Italian immigrant. He settled back for a mild celebration. In
Boston, Massachusetts, it was twelve-twenty–nearly time for lunch.

 

In Harley Street, Bond Street, the King’s
Road and Magdalen College, Oxford, it was six-twenty. Four men, unknown to each
other, checked the market price of Discovery Oil in the final edition of the
London
Evening Standard.
It was
$8.20. All four of them were rich men, looking forward to consolidating their
already successful careers. Tomorrow they would be penniless.

Chapter 1

M
aking a million legally has always been
difficult. Making a million illegally has always been a little easier. Keeping
a million when you have made it is perhaps the most difficult of all. Henryk
Metelski was one of those rare men who managed all three. Even if the million
he had made legally came after the million he had made illegally, what put him
a yard ahead of the others was that he managed to keep it all.

Henryk Metelski was born on the Lower East
Side of New York on May 17, 1909. His parents were Polish and had
emigrated
to America at the turn of the century. Henryk’s
father was a baker by profession and had easily found a job in New York, where
the immigrant Poles specialised in baking black rye bread and running small
restaurants. Both parents would have liked Henryk to have been an academic
success, but he was not gifted in that direction and never became an
outstanding pupil at his high school. He was a sly, smart little boy, unloved
by the school authorities for his indifference to stirring tales of the War of
Independence and the Liberty Bell, and for his control of the underground
school market in soft drugs and liquor. Little Henryk did not consider that the
best things in life were free, and the pursuit of money and power came to him
as naturally as does the pursuit of a mouse to a cat.

Of course, he joined the Polish gang, who
were never as powerful as the Irish or the Italians, but managed to hold their
own on the East Side. Despite his frail build and puny size, his natural
cunning equipped him to run the smaller operations while older and tougher boys
fell in with his plans. The Polish
gang were
responsible for the numbers racket, which they organised in their small
neighbourhood, and because it was exclusively a Polish area they had little
interference from the other big gangs, who were always at war amongst
themselves. It is only the shrimps who survive among the sharks. Henryk quickly
became the brains behind the Polish gang, never allowing
himself
to be caught red-handed, never even picked up, although it was obvious to the
police of the Nineteenth Precinct that he was the one they should be trying to
nail.

When Henryk was a pimply and nourishing
fourteen-year-old his father died of what we now know as cancer. His mother
survived her husband’s death by no more than a few months, leaving their only
child to bring himself up. Henryk should have gone into the district orphanage
for destitute children, but in the early 1920s it was not hard for a boy to
disappear in New York–what was harder was to survive. Henryk became a master of
survival, a schooling which was to prove very useful in later life.

He knocked around the East Side of New York
with his belt tightened and his eyes open, shining shoes here, washing dishes
there, looking always for an entrance to the maze at the heart of which lie
wealth and prestige. He discovered one when his roommate, Jan Pelnik, a
messenger boy on the New York Stock Exchange, put himself temporarily out of
action with a sausage garnished with salmonella. Henryk, deputed to report this
mishap to the Chief Messenger, upgraded food poisoning to tuberculosis, and
talked
himself
into the ensuing job vacancy. Then he
changed his room, donned his new uniform and started work.

Most of the messages he delivered during the
early twenties read “Buy.” Many of them were quickly acted upon, for this was a
boom era. Henryk saw men of little ability make fortunes while he was nothing
but an observer. His instincts directed him towards those individuals who made
more money in a week on the Exchange than he could in a lifetime on his salary.

He set about learning to understand how the
Stock Exchange operated, he listened to conversations, read messages, found out
which newspapers to study and by the age of eighteen he had had four years’
experience on Wall Street. Four years which to most messenger boys would have
been nothing more than walking across floors handing over bits of paper, four
years which to Henryk Metelski had been the equivalent of a master’s degree
from Harvard Business School (not that he knew then that one day he would
lecture to that august body).

In July 1927 he took a midmorning message to
Halgarten & Co., a well-established broking firm, making his usual detour
via the washroom. He had perfected a system whereby he would lock himself into
a cubicle, read the message he was carrying, decide whether it was of any value
to him and, if it was, telephone Witold Gronowich, an older Pole who ran a
small insurance brokerage for his fellow countrymen. Henryk reckoned to pick up
twenty to twenty-five dollars a week extra with the information he supplied.
Gronowich, being unable to place large sums on the market, never led any leaks
back to his young informant.

Sitting in the washroom Henryk began to
realise that he was reading a message of some considerable significance. The
governor of Texas was going to grant the Standard Oil Company permission to
complete a pipeline from Chicago to
Mexico,
all other
public bodies involved having already agreed to the proposal. The market was
aware that the company had been trying to obtain this final permission for
nearly a year. The message was to be passed direct to John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s
broker, Tucker Anthony, immediately. The granting of this pipeline would open
up the entire North to a ready access of oil, and that would mean increased
profits. It was obvious to Henryk that Standard Oil shares would
rise
steadily on the market once the news had broken,
especially as Standard Oil already controlled 90 per cent of the oil refineries
in America.

In normal circumstances Henryk would have
sent this information immediately to Mr. Gronowich, and was about to do so when
he noticed a rather overweight man (who had obviously had too many Wall Street
lunches) also leaving the washroom, drop a piece of paper. As there was no one
else about at the time Henryk picked it up and retreated once again to his
private cubicle, thinking at best it would be another piece of information. In
fact, it was a cheque for $50,000 made out to cash from a Mrs. Rose Rennick.

Henryk thought quickly. He quit the washroom
at speed and was soon standing on Wall Street itself. He made his way to a
small coffee shop on Rector Street, where he carefully worked out his plan and
then he acted on it immediately.

First, he cashed the cheque at a branch of
the Morgan Bank on the southwest side of Wall Street, knowing that as he was
wearing the smart uniform of a messenger at the Exchange it would be assumed
that he was no more than a carrier for some distinguished firm. He then
returned to the Exchange and acquired from a floor broker 2,500 Standard Oil
shares at $19.85, leaving himself $126.61 change after brokerage charges. He
placed the $126.61 in a deposit account at the Morgan Bank. Then, sweating in
tense anticipation of an announcement from the governor’s office, he put
himself through the motions of a normal day’s work, too preoccupied with
Standard Oil even to make a detour via the washroom with the messages he
carried.

No announcement came. Henryk was not to know
that it was being held up until the Exchange had officially closed at four o’clock
because the governor himself was buying shares anywhere and everywhere he could
lay his grubby hands on them, pushing the shares to $20.05 by the close of
business without any official announcement. Henryk went home that night
petrified that he had made a disastrous mistake. He had visions of going to
jail, losing his job and everything he had built up over the past four years.

He was unable to sleep that night and became
steadily more restless in his small room. At one o’clock he could stand it no
longer, so he rose, shaved, dressed and took a train to Grand Central Station.
From there he walked to Times Square, where with trembling hands he bought the
first edition of the
Wall Street Journal.
And there it was, shrieking across the headlines–

GOVERNOR GRANTS OIL PIPELINE RIGHTS TO ROCKEFELLER

and
a secondary headline…

Standard Oil Shares, Heavy Trading Expected.

Henryk walked dazed to the nearest all-night
cafe, on East Forty-second Street, where he ordered a large hamburger and
french fries, which he devoured like a man eating his last breakfast before
facing the electric chair, whereas in fact it was to be the first on his way to
fortune. He read the full details on page one, which spread over to page
fourteen, and by four o’clock in the morning he had bought the first three
editions of the New York
Times
and
the first two editions of the
Herald
Tribune.
Henryk hurried home, giddy and elated, and threw on his uniform.
He arrived at the Stock Exchange at eight o’clock and imitated a day’s work,
thinking only of the second part of his plan.

The interval between the messengers’ arrival
and the official opening of the Exchange is only two hours, but on that day it
seemed interminable to Henryk. He passed it by reading all the papers. The
later editions gave a fuller story of the pipeline, the New York
Times
carrying a detailed enquiry into
the significance of the announcement to the oil industry and an interview with
John D. Rockefeller, Jr., president of Standard Oil.

At last the Stock Exchange opened officially
and Henryk went over to the Morgan Bank to borrow $50,000 against the 2,500
Standard Oil shares, which had opened that morning at $21.30. He placed the
$50,000 in his deposit account and instructed the bank to give him a draft for
$50,000 to be made out to Mrs. Rose Rennick. He left the building and looked up
the address and telephone number of his unknowing benefactor.

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