A very costly language barrier
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A very costly language barrier


Crime doesn’t pay — this mantra ought to be drilled into the minds of bankers by now. But as I found to my amusement this week, loose morals in finance are far from a thing of the past.

No need to read about a banking scandal on the other side of the world: my neighbourhood watering hole provided me with the latest juicy tale.

Down at the American Bar, a former colleague told me how a junior associate of his tried to cheat his employer, but was caught red handed. 

You see, the bank thought it would be a good idea to get their non-Chinese speaking analysts to learn Mandarin, given China is such an important source of business these days.

So they asked employees to hire their own tutors and claim the fees from the bank. But this junior associate, a lad in his 20s, thought he could outsmart the system and rake in some money to make up for the paltry bonus last year.

He devised a scheme where he and his “tutor” — really his mate who was unemployed — faked an invoice to claim money for themselves.

Admittedly it wasn’t a large amount, but it didn't take long for the chap to be found out. Thinking he was now close to fluent in the language, his bosses took him on an important pitch to Shanghai. But without any Mandarin, the junior stuttered and fumbled his way through the meeting.

Needless to say, the client wasn’t impressed — and neither were the chap’s bosses. And with the mandate gone, the lad was thrown out shortly after.

They never learn, do they? If you can’t do the time, don’t commit the crime.