Money – Gone With The Wind!

Money — Gone with the Wind!

Weekend – Khaleej Times

 BY SALEH AL-SHAIBANY

30 January 2009

There is no grace about corrupt people when they think they are above the law.

I WAS rushing for my appointment with the clock ticking. I cursed the endless traffic and wished I had the power to fly over the congested roads. My eyes lifted up to the heavens, hoping for a miracle. It was then that I saw a reflection of white clouds on the polished glass panels of a plush corporate business headquarters. The man I was going to interview had his office right behind one of those brilliantly polished panels.

 He was busy talking over the phone, as his secretary ushered me into his office. For the next five minutes I sat there enjoying the perfect view of the financial district with white clouds hovering peacefully above it.

Then I took out my notebook and quickly rearranged my questions. I knew I would not be given enough time to be able to ask all the questions. So I put the most important one right at the top. I was right because when he put the receiver down, he politely apologised and said he had only five minutes to spare.

 That was enough for me. I only wanted to know what had happened to the funds his company had collected from his clients for the property project that was now suffering a severe financial crisis. He narrowed his eyes and quickly looked at his watch. When he found his words, he said he would rather make a statement by issuing a press release since he had no time to answer the question. He needed time to give the matter the full justice it deserved. It was funny the way he used the word “justice” in his defence to put the matter under wraps.

 I left without getting the story I wanted, but his behaviour had just confirmed the suspicions of many investors.

I looked at the white clouds again, gliding gracefully above the city.

There is no grace about corrupt people when they think they are above the law. I doubt if investors would receive a single penny from the properties they had put their hard-earned money into. This is because the same people who stand to gain from such projects run the state legislation. It is like being in a chicken pen: you stand shoulder to shoulder together, make all the right noises in unison, but you know that you are only waiting for your turn to be picked up for the slaughterhouse.

 I remember, a few years ago, while walking back home one evening from my routine exercise, my neighbour stopped me. He ignored my salaams and got straight to the point. He said, not without sarcasm, that he prayed for one great bounty from God — that he should be appointed for a senior government post for just one day. That was enough for him, he explained, to make himself get rid of all his financial problems for the rest of his life. The few who are privileged to be in that position make the most of it. The temptations are endless for them not to keep their hands out of the till. All I could do was smile because to contradict his words would be hypocrisy.  

 Of course, the official statement I was promised was never issued. The man never answered my phone after that day either. He resigned in a mysterious way when the heat became too much to take, only to make his appearance in another corporate job, perhaps to start all over again.

 In this critical global financial crisis, many will use the situation to take unfair advantage. Most of the money invested in the market has been blown away in a sudden gust of wind — sucked into a tunnel to end up behind the glittering glass panels.

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