Lloyd's of London tries to squeeze cash out of Gokal

People & Business

Where do those guys at Lloyd's of London get their optimism from? Hot on the heels of launching the unlaunchable Equitas reinsurance project, Lime Street has set its sights on squeezing cash out of convicted BCCI fraudster Abbas Gokal.

A writ has been issued from Lloyd's financial recovery unit (aka law firm Dibb, Lupton & Alsop) against the Pakistani shipowner who was found guilty early this month of a $1.2bn scam.

Gokal, who apparently owes a mere pounds 90,000 to Lloyd's, was an investor in the market for more than 20 years. He was on a range of syndicates such as 206, 209, 510 and 601, all of which are effectively wound-up, in run-off.

Gokal was an enthusiastic, if relatively unsuccessful, investor in Lloyd's but he was not so keen on using the market for insuring his own Gulf Shipping business. He apparently found Lloyd's too tough on claims and chose instead to place his risks with other players such as the American Hull Insurance Syndicate.

Even the Lloyd's spokesman admitted it might not be the easiest of tasks. But the insurance market is determined to ensure that any hidden assets in the Gokal estate are sniffed out.

"I have no doubt we will pursue the matter to its natural conclusion," said the spokesman.

Lloyd's was not willing to say where the writ was served; one wonders whether it was HMP Brixton, Gokal's home for the past few months. Unsentenced, Gokal has yet to hear where his long-term home might be.

Tom Peters is widely credited as inventing the management guru industry with his best-selling book In Search of Excellence. But a new biography suggests the best thing he invented was himself.

The $100,000-a-day consultant likes to present himself as a kind of corporate rock and roll star, a renegade his former employer, McKinsey & Co, found too hot to handle. But despite the title, Corporate Man to Corporate Skunk, Stuart Crainer's biography, suggests the real Mr Peters is a rather more traditional type.

It notes that the graduate of two of the United States's most reputable universities - Stanford and Cornell - had served in Vietnam with the US Navy. This was at a time when other rebels were protesting about the war. And he went on to work directly for the US Government before finding his true management guru calling.

The book also trawls through the inevitable details about how most of the companies extolled by Mr Peters hit trouble. The management consultant himself gives a typically gung-ho response to such concerns:"In Search of Excellence's eight principles have survived intact - just the companies haven't."

Mr Peters, who urges executives to take in world literature, would no doubt welcome the appearance of a new tome from that worthy bunch, the Industrial Society. Wrapped in a suitably blood-red cover, David Whyte's The Heart Aroused is subtitled "Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul at Work".

Mr Whyte believes that "a better understanding and appreciation of our inner, more creative selves can help build better performance at work".

Apparently he is helping clients as varied as Kodak, Boeing and Arthur Andersen to use verse in developing an understanding of change. What next? That famous French poet, Eric Cantona, giving management consultancy courses at Old Trafford?

Whatever you might say about traffic wardens, they are at least wholly indiscriminate - they can ruin anyone's day. Peter Tom, chief executive of Bardon, was at the offices of his company's spin doctors, Financial Dynamics, yesterday, celebrating the merger with rival Camas. He had every reason to feel pleased with himself - he'd beaten his opposite number, Alan Shearer, to the top slot in the combined venture, Aggregate Industries, and seen his rugby team, Bath, trounce his new chairman's favoured XV, Leicester, at the weekend. Outside the office, though, poetic justice was going about its blindfolded business as two of the Met's finest gave their attention to a handsome Range Rover on a yellow line - inconspicuous number plate: TOM 45. Amazing how those merger costs mount up.

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