So How Would You Like to Pay?



“OK. For your degree, the admission fee is three hundred thousand pesos and the tuition fee for the whole year is fifteen million pesos; so that’d be fifteen million and three hundred thousand pesos for the first year,” the compliance officer said almost without a pause, hovering on the brink of greed.

Ivan knew that this was going to come, and he had already prepared a response, “Is it okay if I pay for the admission fee first?”

“Yeah,” the compliance officer replied. “As long as you pay the tuition fees as well.”

Ivan nodded, promising the compliance officer to pay before the end of the semester. He then filled in an admission form and paid the admission fee.

However life doesn’t always go according to plans. At the end of the semester, the moment when he was summoned because he had been unable to pay his fees was inevitable. To the dean and the compliance officer he said that he had quit his job to set up Ivan Espinoza Ortega & Associados Limitada. He added that the knowledge he had learned from the university was useful for him in the establishment of the firm. Yet, even though he had won several accounting contracts, up to the third month his firm’s revenue could only reach break event point. He then asked for an extension until the end of the year, “You have all the rights to expel me from the university if I don’t pay by the designated time.”

The dean and the compliance officer exchanged glances. Waiting for another semester wouldn’t do them any harm, they thought; so they finally agreed to give Ivan a second chance.

*

A week later, Ivan Espinoza Ortega & Associados Limitada received a guest: a bald man in his mid fifties. To Ivan, the man exclaimed, “You’ve got to help me out. Otherwise, I’m going to jail!”

Emiliano Castillo looked very nervous. He sat on the chair, trembling. He told Ivan all the tax issues he was having with his company. He was afraid that he might be imprisoned for intentionally avoiding taxes that involved billions of pesos of foreign investment he made in Nicaragua. Imprisonment would be Emiliano’s least favorite thing, so now he wanted Ivan to help him to legally pay the taxes he owned to the government.

Ivan was listening intently. From what he heard Ivan felt that his prospective client did not deliberately avoided tax; he was just careless with documentations. Finally he said, “OK. I will help you. But with one condition.”

“What is it?” Emiliano asked with no slightest intention to disguise his curiosity.

“When I finish working with it, you have to pay me straightaway.” Ivan passed him a note with a figure of fifty million pesos on it, “In cash.”

Emiliano took the note and nodded, “Deal.”

“Give me three months then. I might finish early, but give me three months.”

After signing the contract, Ivan gazed at all the tons of documents and paperwork that Emiliano left in his office. Ivan shook his head; everything was messed up. Shortly after that he took his pen and glasses, and began studying the documents one by one. Meticulously he took notes of any suspicious transactions and ambiguous statements. Days and nights he put every sentence in the documents under his scrutiny. During this time he developed strong boundaries for his solitude that he ate lunch at his office room and missed several dinners with his family for nearly two months.

One morning Ivan came to Emiliano’s office, carrying all auditing documents he had completed. He said, “You’re now safe, Senor Emiliano.”

Emiliano was thrilled when Ivan said this. But he didn’t expect Ivan to come that early. Feeling unease, he said, “But I don’t have the cash now. I could give you the money in two weeks, how’s that?”

Ivan sighed. He was about to leave the room, “You know, Senor Emiliano. If going to prison is what you want, then I will make it very easy for you.”

Flabbergasted, Emiliano jumped out from his chair and gripped Ivan’s right arm, “OK. Wait, wait, wait. Ivan, wait for me, please.”

Ivan stopped. Emiliano then signaled to Ivan to follow him. They went to the lift, going downstairs, and kept striding until they found a hangar that was bequeathed to Emiliano from his father. The place was ominously dark but made a safe haven for nearly a hundred cars, some of which came from late 1960s.

“Fifty million pesos for two cars; pick whatever you like,” Emiliano said.

“Not two, but three,” Ivan replied poker facedly.

Emiliano gazed at Ivan, but he didn’t show any signs of objection. Lithely Ivan then chose a Toyota and a Mazda. Then he added, “How much is the Rolls Royce worth?”

“Thirty million pesos.”

Ivan nodded. He signed the registration certificate of the three cars. Then he took the elegant Rolls Royce with him and asked Emiliano to deliver the other two cars to his house, which was located in the heart of Santiago.

In less than an hour that he was driving Ivan finally arrived at Universidad the Chile. After parking his beautiful Rolls Royce next to the dean’s car, he went straightaway to the compliance officer. Seeing him with the car, the officer remarked, “Wow, you’ve done very well, Ivan!”

“Thank you.”

“You must have come here to pay your tuition, isn’t that so?”

“Correct.”

Smiling wryly, the officer stood up and went to a drawer where he placed Ivan’s file. He took it along with a receipt and some paperwork. “I take it you want to pay for this year’s fees, is that right?”

“No, the whole two years.”

“Oh, even better!” the officer was now ecstatic. He then handed over some paperwork for Ivan to sign. “So how would you like to pay? Cash or bank transfer?”

“Neither.”

“Huh?” the officer displayed a bemused expression. “How then?”

“These,” Ivan placed the key of his Rolls Royce on the officer’s desk. Along with its registration certificate.

*

*

 *

29 thoughts on “So How Would You Like to Pay?

  1. You are a good writer! I liked this story and the poems too 🙂 I used to live in Latin America you know too – in Nicaragua though not Chile.

    • Thank you, I am humbly thankful. You are one generous soul. Great to hear that you used to live there. It must have been a great experience! 🙂

      The character in the story is my former student, and it is a true story. I had some students from Nicaragua in the past. Wonderful people! 🙂

      Subhan Zein

  2. Ivan was definitely holding all the cards in that transaction. “You know, Senor Emiliano. If going to prison is what you want, then I will make it very easy for you.” Jail? Pay debt? Jail? Absolutely no contest. Good story.

  3. A a very good story just ringing with the authenticity of the way firms do business these days,Subhan! Very imaginative young accountant, I would say! (without making any comments on anyone’s ethics, you understand!)

    • Thank you! And he’s a real man too! His name is Ivan! He’s one of the students whose story I will include in my book project. 🙂 Take a look at “One Teacher, 11 Students, and Life’s Greatest Lessons”, if you like, and you’ll see what I mean.. 🙂

      Subhan Zein

    • Thank you very much! 🙂

      No, this is from my student, Ivan. He’s such an inspiring person! 🙂 I’m planning to write his experience in my book. Check out my previous post: One Teacher, 11 Students, and Life’s Greatest Lessons, when you have the time. It tells you more about the project.. 🙂

      Subhan Zein

    • Thank you very much, Ronnie! I really appreciate your comment. 🙂 I hope you are right that I “did” grab them with the tale, hehe..

      Subhan Zein

  4. When I read your description of an office with tons of documents it reminded me of the days of my first employment in a Public Accountants office with documents piled up on the desk and floor for auditing and tax purposes.

  5. I didn’t expect the ending to be like this, but after sometime I got Ivan’s point.
    keep sharing, and is it an excerpt from your upcoming novel ?

Thank you

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