I talked about in my previous post the circumstances of my departure https://wordpress.com/post/davidhender.life/4068 but I want to talk about what was really behind it all.
I used to work for Leon Stoffberg. He was my original boss and actually interviewed me for the job. Leon used to work for my father and was a very clever man.
Leon and I worked well together; I respected him and he respected my talents.
And it was to Leon that I reported the fraud. Reporting on one’s brother-in-law was a dangerous strategy but I was the Finance Director and the buck stopped with me.
I remember walking into his office and closing the door behind me. I recounted what I had found out and he listened very carefully, just saying that “you had better be sure David”. As soon as I left and went back to my office, I saw him walking out of his and into Mike Cobb’s, closing the door behind him.
He was in there for a while and then returned to his office; I knew what was coming next. The phone rang and Mike Cobb asked if I would “pop in for a chat”. That chat consisted of him trying to “rip me to shreds” but I stood my ground and said that it was my responsibility to report any fraud, no matter where it derived from.
At the end of the day, my first port of call was my father’s. I was still a bit shaky after the days events but he had to know as it was he who did all of the hard work for the creation of Premium Credit in the first place. More to the point, Mike Cobb had taken over his division when my father retired. The Commercial division was my Dad’s baby.
Everything was kept under wraps and then Dad informed me that he had agreed to come back, to audit the Commercial division, to see what a mess we were in and what had been hidden; who better to ask than my father.
On the completion of his audit, he determined that millions of pounds of bad debts had been hidden by Cobb, with the sole purpose to show that his division was running better than it was, to get bigger bonuses and to show his brother-in-law that he was running the division properly, which he clearly was not.
My father never liked or respected Cobb, always calling him a “glorified tally man“, only recruited because Leon was the boss. His advice was that Cobb should be summarily dismissed and that a meeting with Electra Fleming be held to discuss the fall out.
Neither of that happened. As I later found out from my father, Leon was scared of his sister because if he had dismissed Cobb, he would have got it in the neck. Cobb stayed, much to my and my father’s disgust.
Then the cover up began. Electra Fleming was never told and I was instructed that under no circumstances was I to report it to either the venture capitalists, Electra Fleming or the bankers. How it was covered up is very technical and not worth writing about but the important thing was that it WAS covered up.
Leon decided that he needed a new challenge and left. I was quite sad; we had worked on the original management buyout together and we got on.
He was replaced by Graham Puttergill who instantly put a layer of management between him and me, a guy called Ken Garrod, who never earned my respect; THAT WAS A BIG MISTAKE.
Garrod was what I called “an armchair director”, always looking busy but just directing other people to do the work. He was not hands on. It was he who blocked my 4 attempts at getting extra staff, blocking which was the direct cause of the demise of my career and loss of financial independence.
If I had reported directly to Puttergill, I am convinced that I would have got extra staff and I would not be where I am now.
Leon did put me in the shit though.
I was away on holiday when he finally left. I was told by my “Number 1” that there had been a stream of directors going into his office asking for totally inappropriate things and fancy cars. There were stories of the female directors, going in with short skirts and sitting on the end of Leon’s desk; get the picture?
As soon as I returned, Puttergill came into my office and close the door. He just said “what the hell are all of these?”, they were orders for fancy cars, which would have given the wrong impression to our clients.
I explained what had happened, that I was not there to attempt to block Leon from agreeing to them and, to his credit, he took me at my word but said “block any more orders”. There were none as Puttergill was a completely different fish to Leon.
The point is this.
I worked my butt off for that company and put my new marriage in jeopardy. I was loyal to Leon, loyal to Graham and loyal to the firm; that is just me, good old fashioned loyalty that is now few and far between.
All of the sales directors were forgiven for any drop in sales but were put on pedestals when they had made a killing; they were given massive bonuses too.
Whereas me, who received a welcome but derisory bonus for all of my hard work and long hours on the management buy out, when all of the founding directors had received millions. It was my hard work and sacrifice that made that happen but I never received a proper “thank you”.
I was always second best to the sales directors; that should not have been the case and was wrong
I wanted to leave but my brother dissuaded me as my employment was tied up with what my family would receive on a final sale. Martin was not bothered about my welfare, he just saw pound signs in his eyes. Ironically, although I left before the final sale because of my breakdown, it didn’t make any difference to what the family eventually received anyway.
When it came to my compensation package, I was awarded a figure that was mindful of what my father was going to receive on a final sale, not what I was worth and its effect on me personally. If it had been, I could have justifiably asked for millions.
That was very wrong
If I do not get what I am justifiably due now from all of the relevant parties, I am mindful to report the fraud to Electra Fleming, MBNA and Bank of America.
Certain confirmation clauses were in all of the sale agreements, signed by the founding directors and by exposing them all, the purchasers could justifiably sue the founding directors for returns of large sums of money and that would include my father