Saturday, November 25, 2023

dinner with a side of bribery

  Well, Thanksgiving day was a shit show but it worked out in the end here on the floating prison that I call my workplace. We had all the signs of a rare day off on a holiday, a double win, only to have a nasty phone call come in late at night with orders to sail immediately for a load. 

    I was asleep, visions of Thanksgiving dinner, which it was my turn to cool, dancing in my head. We had been given a few hours to go shopping and load up on supplies the week before, so I actually had all the things we needed. So yeah, I went to bed feeling good about the next day, and woke up when a tug bumped us and I heard an engine light off and the hydraulics kick on. Fuuuuuuucccccckkkk. 

     BUT, it was a small, single product job. Just one grade of oil to load, straightforward, and I finished the job by 2pm and started cooking. I bought a turkey sans wings and legs, so it only took 2 hours to cook, and we ate really, really well.  

 Good thing, too, because when dinner was over, the phone calls started. 

          So we've bought a wreck of a home in my wife's birth city in Brazil. Not being wealthy or connected, the US is VERY reluctant to allow ordinary douchebags like me to transfer a large sum of money overseas. Worse, I'm buying a home from an estate- the owner died 10 years ago, and is son and heir is selling it to me, but the son is poor like everyone, and can't afford the legal process to bring the house out of probate- hence the deal I got. I'm paying for that out of the cost of the house. The realtor who is making the deal is the owner's cousin, who also grew up in the home, who is also a childhood friend of my wife, who grew up next door to this house. 

    So the first time I tried to wire the money to Brazil, Bank of America queered the deal by doing some seriously sketchy shit. I have not had good luck with B of A. They are assholes. But they're assholes who are conveniently located in almost every coastal city and town in the US.  So, yeah, B of A hires a 3rd party company to handle the wire transfer. Why? Because BofA says they'll send the money in reals, the local currency, so I have an American company handling the currency exchange. Presumably opportunity for graft, which Brazil lives and dies for...  But the 3rd party tells the receiving bank in Brazil they want 0.5% of the money as a fee for the transfer BEFORE the bank even hands it to me. Now I already paid B of A's fee.  The Bank in Brazil, being a bunch of like-minded ball-washing bastards, knows that American banks are a colossal pain in the balls and while reliable, awful to deal with, so they're already kinda pissed off. And they tell the 3rd party company to pound sand. 

   It takes 2 weeks to recall an unclaimed wire transfer internationally. B of A actually assigns a person to run down the money.   And to their credit, B of A got my money back in 13 days, every penny. 

   So we resend the money, in US dollars this time. The bank in Brazil will give us the exchange rates, which means we figure we're going to lose a couple thousand bucks compared to the real exchange rate of the day. BUT, the bank is already spooked by B of A. They're so bad to deal with, and the US government is so intrusive when it comes to tracking ordinary citizens, that they want the real estate transfer papers BEFORE they'll release the money to the realtor. They figure that B of A is going to accuse them of money laundering if they don't have a paper trail as long as my crank.  And the worst part for me is that I KNOW, in my heart of hearts, that the local bank just wants my to slide them a couple hundred beans their way to make the problems go away. That's how Brazil works. Graft is predictable there. They'll even be super polite doing it. The IRS's onerous total control over US citizens is so pervasive that the rest of the world finds interacting with them on our behalf as a form of punishment. The manager gets no bribe, and the home purchase is held up yet again. 

 You know, it would have been easier to get the money in the realtor's hands illegally or quasi-legally. Withdraw the money from my bank over the course of a few weeks, and give it to my wife's friends to remit to the realtor's account a few grand at a time using the cash transfer systems set up by the Indians to funnel money out of the US for illegal aliens to send money home. .Western Union, Remitly, Xoom, Zelle, Cashapp, Easy. Nothing to it. But my idiot ass has to want to do it the right way and generate a paper trail for legal purposes so it doesn't appear sketchy, and I mistrust the financial system in Brazil at the moment because it is controlled by socialists who HATE America right now. 

        This better be worth it. 

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