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When Friends Become Enemies

I am sorry to disappoint you for not posting any pictures of Norway (again). I have been busy the last few weeks doing some leg work.

As some of you know, I went into business with a very good friend last year. He was one of our dearest family friends. I even socialize with his whole family. I met him 5 years ago when he bought a whole set of kitchen from us. After that, we became very good friends in and out of business.

We put up a company doing renovation work for private homes based in England. The plan was I was to be in charge of designing and sales and he would be in charge of the carpentry work. It was a perfect plan. My husband and I started noticing little things that were disturbing. When we registered the company in Norway, I called his attention to why I do not have any signature rights at the company registration in Norway. I do not know how he talked us out of it but he was convincing. This thing though, has been in my mind all the time.

We went to the bank and opened a company account. The bank noticed that he doesn’t have a registered permanent address. (Again, this kept me thinking) We both applied for company visa cards. I got mine after a week and he told me that he has not received his. Since my husband and I have our own bank adviser, I called our adviser and asked why my business partner’s card has not been issued. Her answer was very polite and discreet. She said that my business partner should call the bank. I asked him to call and he said that if the bank does not want him as a customer, he does not want to make business with them. Again, this made me think.

Although, I had my doubts, I waited. The first transaction went well. He used the company account. I started asking him that I would take over the financial part of the company. My excuse is that I was still waiting for the contract from the factory when in fact, I stopped selling to see what was going on. He said that it was easier for him to make the bills and also contracts, etc. I waited. He used his personal account on the next bill, and the next and the next. We asked him about this and he said that it was easier for him to use his own account.

He paid our carpenters’ salary in cash. (who pays salary in cash these days??) Deducted 35% tax. I asked him to use the bank account of the carpenters and he said that he didn’t have them. I told him that I have them.

I received bills from collection agencies that the company has not paid some bills. I started confronting him about the things that I am doubtful about. I asked him about the accounting. He promised and promised and nothing was happening. We knew that we would never get the accounting papers from him.

The last few weeks that I have been busy doing some legwork, we discovered that the taxes for the carpenters were not paid. We were informed that he still doesn’t have a recorded residence in Norway and that he and his wife are separated on government files. We know that they are living together and they are always together. We also found out that the Value Added Tax were not paid. The Employer Tax was not paid. Our carpenters were not registered as employees in our company. This I found out by going to the tax offices. The tax office staff were really helpful. They told me what steps to take and they would help me with the rest.

We have recently learned that this is not the first time he has done this. It is so unfortunate because we treated him and his whole family as friends. It is really sad to find out that swindlers can be dressed as friends.

I learned my lessons. I am opening a new company in the first week of April and I have a new business partner, my husband.

PS. I have forgiven what he has done and I am not after any compensation but I could not just let this go since our employees are involved. I had to report the situation to the necessary government agencies so that the employees would not pay unnecessary taxes this year.