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Opinion

Shakedown

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

This article could have been much interestingly written by my most favorite author of thriller novels were he alive today. But since Robert Ludlum has crossed the great barrier, I dare to draw the initial sketches of a story which could have been a good Jason Bourne thriller if written by him. It could even be titled SHAKEDOWN a catch word that could run parallel to his other books Matlock Paper, Parsifal Mosaic and Gemini Contenders. By the way, the very first of the 27 novels of Robert Ludlum that I read was Scarlatti Inheritance. I was then first year in law school, almost half a century ago.

The opening scene of Shakedown could be a mass action of former employees of a large banking corporation. It could be a thrilling twist to show that the bank was formerly government owned. Innocent bystanders would have come to learn that these retired workers are rallying in front the bank’s regional offices throughout the country demanding the implementation a recent decision of a high tribunal. The case itself is ancient. It is about the claim for employee benefits which for perceived reasons of influential power, had been buried deep in the archives of the court. That it has just recently been resolved is the indication of SHAKEDOWN.

In appearance, the mass action is legitimate yet low key. It is a common democratic process for people to go to the streets to air certain grievances and demand rights. While the activity is observably common, Ludlum could have worked his literary mind from that seeming innocence of the demonstration rally to emotional meetings presided by the owner of the bank in the Boards of Directors of the other corporations he owns. The writer could have woven the profiles of such companies as one, a huge international airline, also formerly government owned, two a large producer of beer and three a dominant manufacturer of leading cigarettes brands. And we, the readers would simply say “Oh my goodness!”

Why Shakedown? The writer’s plot weaves around the incredible wealth of a dictator which he amassed in the course of his corrupt regime. To hide his fortune from public view, the dictator funneled his money to some identifiable friendly business people. Some trust papers were written, others were completely undocumented. The dummies, one of whom is the owner of the bank now under stress, made sure that the hidden dictator’s largesse would grow using the enormous power of the ruler-trustor.

It could be penned from the writer’s fertile mind that the regime of the dictator abruptly fell with the ruler eventually banished to a foreign land. The country’s new governors tried to seize all assets of the fallen leader. On his part, the exiled despot attempted to get back his fortune from “cestui que trust” among them the bank owner. Unfortunately, no documents of any sort were written such that the banker became a financial traitor, as he flatly claimed full legal ownership of the supposed dummy corporations and dismissed the demands of the perceived trustor.

If he were alive, Ludlum could have probably written that by quirk of fate, the family of the deposed dictator regained almighty power. They are in control of everything. It is time for them to retrieve that immense fortune which they entrusted to cronies starting with the banker. Ludlum’s probable plot has the resurgent ruler shaking down the banker. The revival by the tribunal of a long forgotten case and the promulgation of a decision condemning the banker to pay his former employees is, actually, the beginning of the retrieval scheme. This shakedown carries the words, “Come to me in a jet plane and over a bottle of beer, we can talk about the return of the bank to my family.”

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ROBERT LUDLUM

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