1 January 1995
Béatrice Belmont is attractive - and a successful business woman who has built up her career on her own. A lot of things would have been simpler if she had taken advantage of the good name of her ex-husband, the younger heir of the Geneva-based Belmont Bank. She now directs an investment fund specializing in art. Regularly visiting auctions, there she meets Robert, a lawyer, who enchants her with his charm. Even after being divorced from her husband Michael Béatrice her former father-in-law Paul Belmont has always remained her friend. When his older son and designated successor Albert is killed in a sports accident, the line of succession in the family is bitterly contested. His two daughters have hopes for their husbands in this connection. Carlo, husband of the older daughter Anita, is the manager of the department for the bank's private customers, while Léon, husband of the family's baby Lucy, manages a subsidiary of the bank. Paul, however, is in agreement with the attorney Viktor Lepka, his right hand, that Béatrice, with her dynamic but understanding flair, is more suited than anyone else to take over Albert's position. Béatrice appreciates this evidence of trust but asks Paul for time to consider. She cannot completely change her life from one day to the next. Besides, in her opinion her ex-husband Michael would be much better suited to assume the management of the bank. And this seems to her to be the ideal basis for a reconciliation between father and son after years of feuding. Despite Béatrice's mediation, however, Paul and Michael have a violent dispute again. Michael storms out of his father's office in a rage. Only now, after her plan has failed, does Béatrice begin thinking seriously about Paul's offer. Shortly afterwards, after learning that the attorney Viktor Lepka has committed suicide, her decision is definite: she will begin working for the Belmont Bank. Already on the following day Béatrice pays the Belmont subsidiary Arcus a visit. She asks Fallon, Paul's judiciary adviser, to help her investigate the reasons for Lepka's death. Together, the two quickly find out that Lepka had been involved in shady transactions and that he broke down under pressure. At the same time they discover that Arcus has suffered losses amounting to thousands of millions in the past months under the management of Paul's son-in-law Léon. But even after an intensive search they cannot locate Léon. Paul immediately convenes a family conference. News arrived heralding a new disaster. Interpol, namely, has begun investigating the bank for laundering money. There is a witness in New York willing to give State's evidence against the bank: Léon, who, by doing this, wants to gain exemption from punishment for his own appropriations. Béatrice knows that Paul would never misuse the bank for laundering money. However, to her own and Paul's horror they ascertain that a numbered account does exist under the name of Paul's brother Monsignore Francis Belmont living in America. Although the pertinent documents have mysteriously vanished Béatrice and Fallon, now almost inseparable, discover that dubious deals have indeed been transacted through this account. The connections involving the account lead not only to mailbox companies but even to the Vatican itself. While Béatrice continues investigating the background of the numbered account Paul meets with other bankers in Geneva. The latter refuse, though, to grant the Belmont Bank credit to deflect its losses. Paul finally collapses under the tension and suffers a heart attack. Because of Paul's illness the Belmont family threatens to fall apart. But through Béatrice's mediation Michael now takes over the management of the bank after all. His prestige in the world of finance gains the Belmont Bank a reprieve from the creditors and the prosecuting attorney's office. In the meantime Béatrice and Fallon have continued pursuing the paths of the illegal money. They skilfully reveal that a secret international organization has made use of the account to launder its money. Monsignore Francis, misled by his ambition to become a cardinal, has allowed his name to be used. By obtaining desperately needed money thanks to these dirty deals, he managed to make himself indispensable to the Vatican. No one there learned of the money's source. Béatrice, Michael and Paul, on the road to recovery, use this information to save the bank. During a meeting Paul and Francis have a bitter exchange of words. The banker succeeds in negotiating credit with the Vatican bank, thus making the family enterprise solvent once again. Aside from that, he demands that Francis use his influence to prevent the witness from giving State's evidence. Béatrice is a horrified witnesses to this agreement. She knows that Paul, by doing this, has engineered Léon's death sentence. Although her entreaties fall on deaf ears, she desperately attempts to change the banker's mind. To save his bank, Paul is determined to stop at nothing. His triumph is only short-lived, however. He suffers a second heart attack. Béatrice is not able to prevent Paul's fatal transaction. But despite an attractive offer from Michael she does not wish to profit from its fruit, either, and turns her back on the world of big business.
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