Saving the National Neopian Bank: Part Four
"Up till now, I'm afraid, most of the matters that we've been over are fairly straightforward," Mr. Edgeworth said. Unlike Colby, his voice had somewhat of a personal tone to it, rather than sounding as if he was reading from a teleprompter. "However, they don't really save the company much. It is this last portion which truly matters, and I'm afraid that won't be as simple as dealing with the rest."
"The problem lies in our brand in Krawk Island," Mr. Edgeworth said. "To put it plainly, it is no longer profitable at all, and actually, as a matter of fact, it takes out neopoints from other parts of the bank and takes then in to devour them. At this point, there is no option but to close that branch completely."
"Why is Krawk Island that bad?" Golgoth asked.
"Several reasons," Mr. Roberts said. "Starting with the first thing, Krawk Island does not take neopoints at all, and everyone there wishes to deal in only dubloons. You won't believe the kind of massive headache that that causes us and any company that wants to work in Krawk Island. We have to continuously update the exchange rates, if it is even one neopoint off we could lose millions. And then there is the fact that we have to constantly keep a ready supply of dubloons on Krawk Island. For that, long ago we invested around twenty billion neopoints in dubloons as according to new Krawk Island 'restrictions'. Merely a few weeks later, the whole disaster with Krawk Island happened, and we got our dubloons back, but now they're worth one fourth of what we paid for them."
"Indeed," Colby said. "And there are a whole lot of other issues to deal with when you're trying to work on Krawk Island. Our banks often get raided, and trying to pay interest on accounts that have only dubloons is a disaster."
"Wait, how would you pay interest on an account in dubloons? How could pay off in fractions?" Golgoth asked.
"You can't, so we usually just put it in as neopoints, and they can later on be exchanged for dubloons," Colby said. "It gets really tricky with interest rates changing day by day, and another thing is that there is truly bad security on Krawk Island. We've had ships been taken over several times, twice our banks have been burnt to the ground, and there are often fake dubloons going around, which are much harder to notice from fake neopoints."
"Really? Security is that bad? Don't you hire guards?" Mrs. Beth asked.
"Guards are hardly useful when an army of pirates is coming after you," Mr. Roberts said. "We initially went to Krawk Island thanks to the gains that we received from the Food Club, but in the recent years we've been at a consecutive loss every single fiscal quarter. The amount that we currently spend to keep Krawk Island running is around sixty billion neopoints a month."
There was silence.
"Are you really serious? A month? How can it cost that much?" Golgoth asked.
"Several reasons. First of all, insurance and security cost much, much, more on Krawk Island. Then there are all of these fraudulent claims for deposits and such, and the losses incurred to us by the depreciating value of the dubloon keep mounting day by day. Add to that the fact that our managers have an odd tendency to become kidnapped by pirates several times despite how much security we put out there, and the now exorbitant taxes on our so-called profits put on by the new Governor," Colby said. "Not to mention rules and regulations keep changing, and over time we're getting the notion that the pirates are taking advantage of us. Their patterns of working have been quite strange, as if all of them are on some plan to take as much neopoints away from us as possible."
Golgoth stood up. "Then why not simply close the shop there and move out? It's clear that these decisions are damaging the company, and are so damaging the shareholders who the company exists to serve. Why haven't we already done this?"
"Calm down, Golgoth," Mr. Edgeworth said. "We want to move out of that place as much as you do, but there is a problem. It is illegal for us to move out of Krawk Island."
There was silence as the meaning of those words were allowed to sink in.
"What do you mean, it's illegal?" Golgoth asked. "It is our company, right, so just move out."
"The new, self-styled Governor of the Island doesn't think so," Mr. Edgeworth said. "He's now made it mandatory for us to continue operating on Krawk Island."
"How?" Mrs. Beth asked.
"How? This is Krawk Island that we are talking about, Mrs. Beth. You're forgetting the basic nature of law itself, and that the Governor can quite literally make up the laws as he might. As a lawyer, my job mainly deals with trying to navigate the various legal restrictions placed on the bank, but I can't do anything about the laws and how they are made," Mr. Edgeworth said.
"Then just pull out," Golgoth said. "Who cares what some pirates say? And what are they even going to do to us, anyway? They certainly can't declare war on us or anything like that, they'd be stopped in their tracks immediately."
"We would like to do that," Mr. Edgeworth said. "But unfortunately, some of our employees have currently been kidnapped by pirates and we cannot just leave them there. We're almost done siphoning away various funds we've kept on Krawk Island, the remainder will just have to be abandoned."
"And this is where you all must come in," Mr. Roberts said. "Normally, what we've always done is met the pirates' demands and given them what they wanted."
"What? Don't you have a policy with not negotiating with criminals or something along those lines?" Golgoth asked.
"And then what were we supposed to do? We can't leave our employees, and we certainly don't have the martial force necessary to deal with the pirates ourselves," Mr. Roberts said. "However, every single time we've sent people to negotiate with them, the pirates have just taken the negotiators captive and usually take back the earlier prisoners. We've found no respite from this, so this time, we'll have to do it differently. We've hired some mercenaries who we believe will be helpful in reclaiming them."
"That is where you must come in, mister mayor," Mr. Edgeworth said. "This is technically an attack on foreign soil, so we will need authorization for this."
"Wait a minute, wait a minute," the Mayor said. "I can't sign something like that on such short notice. And tell me, if I do sign it, that means that Neopia Central is technically declaring war on Krawk Island. What if the pirates decide that they want revenge, what then?"
"The Defenders of Neopia are always there, aren't they?" Mr. Edgeworth asked.
"They're not enough to keep a hoard of pirates away, which is why we never allowed them to go rescue your employees," the Mayor said. "I'm afraid I can't go ahead and give this sort of open approval. If, on the other hand, you can manage this somehow, I am willing to give a sort of tacit credibility to this. If you fail though, I don't want anything to do with it."
Typical politician, Mr. Roberts thought. He's more concerned about avoiding potential blame for an incident rather than doing something that will actually help. "I'm afraid that won't work. We'll be needing to use official channels of movement to carry out this operation. We can't go completely covert on this. Think about what will happen if you don't let this go through, the bank will still collapse, and then we'll be facing the biggest economic crisis in history. As for the pirates, they will not attack us. The new Governor won't let that happen, and should it happen all other nations will come to our aid. Moltara, Faerieland, even the Haunted Woods depends on Neopia Central," he said.
"Another thing," Mr. Edgeworth said. "Golgoth, since you are representing the stockholders in this situation, you do have a responsibility to the shareholders and telling them of something like this, but you're going to have to keep quiet on this for now."
Mr. Edgeworth pulled out two documents from his briefcase. One of them was a form to be signed by the Mayor, allowing them to continue their operation. The other one was to be signed by all of them, and was a non-disclosure agreement, legally binding all of them to remain quiet about the events at the meeting.
This is what it all boils down to, Mr. Roberts thought.
Turns out that he didn't need to worry. Though the others seemed to be slightly reluctant, each and every single one of them signed.
Now all that was left was to wire the payment to one Ylana Skyfire to get the job done.
To be continued...