May 15, 2009

The week for lessons to be learnt (again!)

This week, amidst having some blogging event, Advertlets' Angels and Demons screening on Tuesday, at work it was just as hectic. I had meetings with bankers of a different level (corporate). Some new clients and that was on top of the normal adminstration of the office. So, as we navigate through various appointments, my partners and I were also excited with the chances given to us by these clients and bankers. It was kind of breaking the barrier of new business which we have flirted a bit before but never really got the chance to prove ourselves on our capabilities. Of course, we have already done corporate banking matters before most of the jobs were related to our forte of property and banking lawyers. This time, the industry is new, oil and gas.

Oil and gas is not actually a new industry to us on a personal level as we have many friends who are working with the owner of that two big building in the middle of the town of Kuala Lumpur which was were once were the tallest building in the world. There are also friends who work with the service and support industry to the oil and gas industry. These friends have always tell us tales of the job involving travels and basically living life which is not 'normal' and more global than any other ordinary mortals. When we get to know a few of the owners who are of different league from our friends, we were excited to say the least.

My partner was introduced to one of them by a banker who was processing the loan for the company in which they want to obtain a financing for a part of their working capital. It was just a paltry sum to the amount that they are looking for. As the COO of the company was looking for an even bigger loan, I set an appointment for him with one commercial bank which may have the capability to finance his venture. On the day of the appointment, I actually had just met the man for the first time. He seems young and was dressed just in a jean and an untuck shirt. Knowing his industry which usually does not really emphasise on appearance but more on knowledge, I did not give much thoughts on how he looked.

During the meeting, other than the banker who really has knowledge on the subject matter, I also asked him a few probing question even to the point of who is the company's 'real' owner. He answered it gamely and even threw a few hints or two. Alas, what he was asking for was too big for the bank to absorb but I told him that I may have a solution for him by setting him up with a merchant banker. Then we parted ways and I did a few background check on him. That was when I found a few discrepancies in his story. Then I asked the first banker to recheck all the documents that the company had submitted. True enough, yesterday, the banker called me to tell me all  the documents are fake! And to make matter worse, the story about owning facilities in the east coast are all just a story. Nothing more.

It was sobering when you learnt that even banker can be fooled sometimes and the lesson that you need to relearn again and again, always check the background of the clients that you are dealing even with the primitive way of calling a friend who is living in his part of town.

p/s - But at least we got to know a genuine oil and gas company through another client within this week too and this one checked out well. Hmmmm.... You lose some and you win some...

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