ArabAd - - COVER STORY -

In 1990, at the be­gin­ning of the “Il­gha'” war, Rizk’s home in Nac­cache was shelled and the sit­u­a­tion de­te­ri­o­rated fur­ther still. Fear­ing their safety, both he and his wife left to Chicago where their chil­dren were liv­ing and at­tend­ing univer­sity. Mariejoelle was in film school and Alain was work­ing on his MBA.

Two months into their stay, one of his clients and a dear friend called Abed Tab­bara calls to say, “An­dré, I’m with Publ­i­rizk be­cause of you… If you are not around, I will have to work with a dif­fer­ent agency.” Rizk felt that the rea­son was not very con­vinc­ing and when he in­quired fur­ther, his client said that there seemed to be some billing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties on be­half of the agency.

Rizk was en­raged. Think­ing back on the events that fol­lowed, he leaned for­ward and said, “I was on a flight back to Beirut within 48 hours. I walked into the of­fice and felt like a com­plete stranger. Every­one was won­der­ing why I had re­turned. I went into the ac­count­ing de­part­ment, took all the com­pany’s books and headed to Ba­troun to go over them with my ac­coun­tant Camille Aoun. A week later, I dis­cov­ered that Wa­jih had over­charged nu­mer­ous clients in­clud­ing Tab­bara to the tune of $70,000, Pepsi for $60,000, and Bata for $40,000. Also, those amounts did not show-up in the com­pany’s fi­nan­cial state­ment. So, on the 23rd of Novem­ber 1990, a date I will never for­get, I went to the of­fice with my head ac­coun­tant and my lawyer Me. Bam­bino. There I met and talked, be­hind closed doors, with Wa­jih for four hours. At the end of that meet­ing, I had Wa­jih write me checks for all the amounts owed and sold my shares of Publ­i­rizk to him.”

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