57. Heading North

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"Unless he what?" Lorne asked as he rose and offered a hand to Valerie.

"Transferred it to Swiss accounts — or had it there already, or in other shelters."

Lorne nodded. "Like Montserrat, the Caymans, Gibraltar —"

"No, the Overseas Dependencies are part of the new regulations. The traditional havens must now report to HMRC the details of all British accounts."

"Yes, of course; that makes sense." He shrugged. "I've not used any of them, never saw any reason for banking there other than to hide money. I'm sure that's why the crackdown."

"Exactly. There's been far too much abuse."

"Only by those who wish to misuse offshore banking. I've maintained Swiss accounts for more than a decade, but for the stability of their economy, not to hide money." He chuckled. "I'm a good little boy, and I report all my interest."

"As do I, but the interest is minor. My Swiss account balances nearly doubled with the foreign exchange swing following the 2008 collapse." She shrugged. "But you know this — yours would also have."

"That's their purpose. To take advantage of international fluctuations. I fund most of my offshore purchases from Swiss accounts. I wonder if he does anything except trying to hide money."

Valerie tilted her head along the aisle. "We should join Clyde and Chloe at the table." She squeezed Lorne's hand. "And let's find some other topic. Anything to help get my mind off him."

Shortly after they had taken their seats, Patrick arrived with the chilled bottle of Bulles du Chêne. "Begin with the sparkling, Sir?"

"Yes, please."

Chloe looked at the label. "That's from your new winery, isn't it? Do you know why the name is French?" She gave a full-tooth grin. "I do."

Lorne grinned back at her. "You were going to research Franschhoek and tell us all about it, weren't you?"

"It was Mummy's diversion tactic to keep me from searching for..." She giggled, then shrugged. "For things. Anyway, the area was settled in the 1680s by Protestant refugees from France, and they named it le Coin Français, which means the French Corner. The Dutch later changed it to Franschhoek, which means the same thing. It was unsettled when they arrived, but as it developed, people migrated from the rest of Africa." She paused when Patrick had finished pouring the wine. "Juice again, please."

The four carried on a broad-ranging conversation through dinner, then as Patrick served the cheese course, he said to Chloe, "Garth has asked if you could come to the cockpit now. We'll soon be over the coast of Angola, and he wants to show you the line between the lights of civilisation and the black of the ocean."

"Please, may I be excused, Mummy?"

"Yes, you may. And you also may do your maths problems tomorrow."

After Chloe had gone forward, Clyde said, "Such an aware and serious girl. Difficult to believe she's only ten." He chuckled. "At ten, mine were still oblivious and playing with Barbie and Ken."

Valerie nodded. "So was I. How old are they now?"

"Thirty-four and thirty-five."

"Yeah, my era. Different times, different influences."

The conversation turned to education, both social and formal, and they had moved to other topics by the time Chloe returned. "Boring to fly this. Just sit and monitor the autopilot and instruments. I far preferred flying the helicopter."

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