Four Warned (Quick Reads 2014)

Four Warned (Quick Reads 2014) by Jeffrey Archer Read Free Book Online

Book: Four Warned (Quick Reads 2014) by Jeffrey Archer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jeffrey Archer
even that can be cancelled if the
prison is short-staffed (which happens about twice a week).
    I always used the 45-minute escape to power-walk, for two reasons. One, I needed the exercise because on the outside I attend a local gym five days a week, and, two, not many prisoners bothered
to try and keep up with me. Except Karl.
    Karl was a Russian by birth who hailed from that beautiful city of St Petersburg. He was a contract killer who had just begun a 22-year sentence for disposing of a fellow countryman who was
proving tiresome to one of the Mafia gangs back home. He cut his victims up into small pieces, and put what was left of them into a furnace. His fee – if you wanted someone disposed of
– was five thousand pounds.
    Karl was a bear of a man, six foot two and built like a weightlifter. He was covered in tattoos and never stopped talking. On balance, I didn’t consider it wise to interrupt his flow. Like
so many prisoners, Karl didn’t talk about his own crime, and the golden rule (should you ever end up inside) is never ask what a prisoner is in for, unless they raise the subject. However,
Karl did tell me a tale about an Englishman he’d come across in St Petersburg. He claimed to have seen what happened in the days when he’d been a driver for a government minister.
    Although Karl and I were on different resident blocks, we met up regularly for Association. But it still took several walks around the yard before I squeezed the story of Richard Barnsley out of
him.
    *   *   *
    DON’T DRINK THE WATER. Richard Barnsley stared at the little plastic card that had been placed on the basin in his bathroom. It was not the kind of warning you expect to
find when you are staying in a five-star hotel. Unless, of course, you are in St Petersburg. By the side of the notice stood two bottles of Evian water.
    When Richard (known as Dick) strolled back into his large bedroom, he found two more bottles had been placed on each side of the double bed, and another two on a table by the window. The
management were not taking any chances.
    Dick had flown into St Petersburg to close a deal with the Russians. His company had been chosen to build a pipeline that would stretch from the Urals to the Red Sea. It was a project that
several other, more established, companies had wanted. Dick’s firm had been awarded the contract, against great odds. But those odds had shortened once he promised Anatol Chenkov (the
Minister for Energy and close personal friend of the President) two million dollars a year for the rest of his life. The only currencies the Russians trade in are dollars and death –
especially when the money is going to be deposited in a numbered account.
    Before Dick had started up his own company, Barnsley Construction, he had learnt his trade working in Nigeria, in Brazil and in Saudi Arabia for large corporations. Along the way he had picked
up a trick or two about bribery. Most international companies treat bribery as just another form of tax, and make the provision for it whenever they present their offer to carry out work. The
secret is always to know how much to offer the minister, and how little to dispose of among his workers.
    Anatol Chenkov (who had been appointed by the Russian President, Putin) was a tough negotiator, but then under an earlier regime he had been a major in the KGB. However, when it came to setting
up a bank account in Switzerland, the minister was clearly a beginner. Dick took full advantage of this as Chenkov had never travelled beyond the Russian border before he had been appointed to the
Politburo.
    Dick flew Chenkov to Geneva for the weekend, while he was on an official visit to London for trade talks. He opened a numbered account for him and deposited $100,000 – so-called
‘seed money’ – but more than Chenkov had ever been paid in his lifetime. This sweetener was to ensure that their bond would last for the necessary nine months until the contract
was signed.

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