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Jaak

Small Council´s understanding of Petyr´s ledgers

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Robert does not like to count coppers.

But that does not apply to the rest of Small Council. Even Renly is more dutiful.

Stannis is smart, and hates Petyr.

Pycelle has been Grand Maester through the rule of Aerys.

Jon Arryn was dutiful and worried about the kingdom.

Tywin Lannister saw Petyr´s ledgers, and made a brief summary that Crown revenue was 10 times what it had been under Aerys.

Well, he had been Aerys´ hand. He had good understanding of Aerys´ finances. Does not mean that he quickly got understanding of Petyr´s finances.

For Aerys had had revenues - Petyr had business turnover. The actual net revenues, after the costs of business, were nowhere near ten times Aerys´ revenues.

Now, Jon Arryn, Pycelle and Stannis would have understood that much.

Not that it was easy to catch Petyr at theft. He covered his tracks well.

But Stannis successfully exposed Janos Slynt at corruption. Actually persuaded Jon Arryn to fire Janos - but Petyr persuaded Robert not to.

Had Stannis had adequate evidence to catch Petyr, not at corruption (too well disguised) but at incompetence (such as corruption disguised as incompetence), he would have presented the evidence to Jon and Pycelle.

That it did not happen shows that there was not such evidence.

Yes - Robert went through the treasures accumulated by Aerys out of one tenth the revenue, and racked up 6 million dragons of debt.

But Petyr´s predecessor was already "beleaguered". How much of Robert´s debt dated from Petyr´s beleaguered predecessor, rather than Petyr?

If Robert racked up, say, 4 million dragon debts in 5 years before Petyr (deficit 800 000 dragons per year) and added just 2 million dragons in 5 years of Petyr (deficit down to 400 000 dragons per year) then Stannis could not deny that Petyr was an improvement, and firing Petyr and trying someone else would be a bad idea.

Does not mean Petyr did not steal. He might have earned an actual surplus of 800 000 dragons per year, and stolen 1 200 000 dragons yearly, so the debt would have been paid off, had Petyr chosen to. This Stannis would not have known. But Stannis could not have denied that Petyr´s predecessor had been beleaguered, and Petyr less so...

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We're not 100% certain that Littlefinger was stealing, but it's heavily implied.

The perfect cover for LF is that it's already known by all that Robert is a big spender. The crown would be in debt anyway, but few would notice a few million more here or there. 

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38 minutes ago, Shouldve Taken The Black said:

We're not 100% certain that Littlefinger was stealing, but it's heavily implied.

The perfect cover for LF is that it's already known by all that Robert is a big spender. The crown would be in debt anyway, but few would notice a few million more here or there. 

Pretty much this, but what occured to me is, Petyr doesn't need to steal all that much from the treasury, at least not after some time.

He owns several brothels, some having prostitutes near the level of Braavosi courtesans if I recall, and know what Robert spends his days with while Jaime holds the door? Whoring. So even making Bob choose Petyr as his service provider is a big fat source of income. He is also dealing in information extracted by his interrogators,or rather prostitutes, and sells positions, all of these provide him with money without actually stealing any.

I think a smart guy like Petyr wouldn't risk his neck stealing from the crown when there are other ways for easy money without any risk, ways in which people will be giving him money willingly and knowingly.

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Why do we believe the numbers Littlefinger gives to the council are correct? If he is smart, he would be keeping two books.

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I believe Tyrion implies that a lot of the investments in the books look like bullshit to him.  It is very easy to say a ship sank when it didn't, it is very easy to say some grain was stolen, or burned, when it wasn't, etc. etc..  LF even says as much at one point when describing why whores are the better investment.

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49 minutes ago, aryagonnakill#2 said:

I believe Tyrion implies that a lot of the investments in the books look like bullshit to him.  It is very easy to say a ship sank when it didn't, it is very easy to say some grain was stolen, or burned, when it wasn't, etc. etc..  LF even says as much at one point when describing why whores are the better investment.

Tyrion also notes that many of the "Antler Men" were people heavily indebted to the crown via loan from Petyr.  Joffrey launched them, and any ability to recoup that money, into the Blackwater.

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Embezzlement and bribery are fairly easy to cover up, it's not like he was just walking out every day with a sack of coins. He had his underlings paying him for their positions, which he created specifically for these individuals.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Jaak said:

Robert does not like to count coppers.

But that does not apply to the rest of Small Council. Even Renly is more dutiful.

Stannis is smart, and hates Petyr.

Pycelle has been Grand Maester through the rule of Aerys.

Jon Arryn was dutiful and worried about the kingdom.

Tywin Lannister saw Petyr´s ledgers, and made a brief summary that Crown revenue was 10 times what it had been under Aerys.

Well, he had been Aerys´ hand. He had good understanding of Aerys´ finances. Does not mean that he quickly got understanding of Petyr´s finances.

For Aerys had had revenues - Petyr had business turnover. The actual net revenues, after the costs of business, were nowhere near ten times Aerys´ revenues.

Now, Jon Arryn, Pycelle and Stannis would have understood that much.

Not that it was easy to catch Petyr at theft. He covered his tracks well.

But Stannis successfully exposed Janos Slynt at corruption. Actually persuaded Jon Arryn to fire Janos - but Petyr persuaded Robert not to.

Had Stannis had adequate evidence to catch Petyr, not at corruption (too well disguised) but at incompetence (such as corruption disguised as incompetence), he would have presented the evidence to Jon and Pycelle.

That it did not happen shows that there was not such evidence.

Yes - Robert went through the treasures accumulated by Aerys out of one tenth the revenue, and racked up 6 million dragons of debt.

But Petyr´s predecessor was already "beleaguered". How much of Robert´s debt dated from Petyr´s beleaguered predecessor, rather than Petyr?

If Robert racked up, say, 4 million dragon debts in 5 years before Petyr (deficit 800 000 dragons per year) and added just 2 million dragons in 5 years of Petyr (deficit down to 400 000 dragons per year) then Stannis could not deny that Petyr was an improvement, and firing Petyr and trying someone else would be a bad idea.

Does not mean Petyr did not steal. He might have earned an actual surplus of 800 000 dragons per year, and stolen 1 200 000 dragons yearly, so the debt would have been paid off, had Petyr chosen to. This Stannis would not have known. But Stannis could not have denied that Petyr´s predecessor had been beleaguered, and Petyr less so...

I don't think LF was stealing.  Blame Robert for having an open hand when it came to money.

Edited by Moiraine Sedai

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8 hours ago, Jaak said:

For Aerys had had revenues - Petyr had business turnover. The actual net revenues, after the costs of business, were nowhere near ten times Aerys´ revenues.

And how did you come to this conclusion? 

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5 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Why do we believe the numbers Littlefinger gives to the council are correct? If he is smart, he would be keeping two books.

The numbers about debt have to be. Major creditors, like Tywin, Mace, Faith and Iron Bank, want King´s signature for debts, not just Petyr´s word.

Sure Petyr is keeping double books. With tedious details of his investments, like precisely who the money is invested with and what he is skimming off.

But the net proceeds, like the money given for Robert to waste and the money borrowed in Robert´s name, should check out.

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It seems likely that Littlefinger practiced embezzlement, enriching himself from the proceeds of taxation, kickbacks from job seekers, a hefty cut of money he "earned" for the Iron Throne via his gouging schemes, finders fees on monies he borrowed from other houses, etc. We know that he wore some of it on his back, as fancy wear chosen by a man with little taste and probably color blind. Interestingly, not a cent went to his family holdfast in the Fingers. More staff were never hired. More sheep were never bought. Repairs were never made. Nothing was done to improve the lives of the increasingly few folks living there.

This is not a man you'd want to have in charge of a government. He's only in it for himself, and everybody else is on their own.

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4 hours ago, Jaak said:

The numbers about debt have to be. Major creditors, like Tywin, Mace, Faith and Iron Bank, want King´s signature for debts, not just Petyr´s word.

How do you know that? Even if you were right - how do you know that King Robert would have the correct numbers or lower himself to talk with foreigners and copper counters about the income of the Iron Throne?

Mace and Tywin are subjects to the Iron Throne. When they king asks them for a loan they grant him that loan - especially if the interest rates are good.

4 hours ago, Jaak said:

But the net proceeds, like the money given for Robert to waste and the money borrowed in Robert´s name, should check out.

You seem to make to many assumptions. The way I imagine Robert - the way he is presented - doesn't indicate the man cared to know how high the incomes of the Iron Throne - nor how much money he was spending. If he had cared about any of that he wouldn't have wasted as much money as he did.

Robert looks like the kind of guy who tells his underlings to make something happen - never mind how much it costs, never mind what they have to do - and then he comes back and checks whether he got what he wanted.

He isn't the kind of guy who comes in and gives you a budget and says 'You can only spend so much' - nor is he the kind of guy who goes to his treasurer and asks him for money to spend. He goes to his treasurer and tells him to spend his money for stuff he wants. That's what kings do.

And that makes it exceedingly easy for Littlefinger to invent fantasy numbers. Robert threw a feast or a tourney, and it cost X dragons, but Littlefinger claims it cost Y dragons. And the council and the king only get the Y number, never the X number (assuming they ever ask about those numbers). There are no independent people double-checking the reports of the Master of Coin as far as we know.

And when Littlefinger claims the other council members know the finances of the Iron Throne then this is the case because he, Littlefinger, tells them how their financial situation is.

We see how the system works with the embezzlement (likely done together with Varys) via non-existing offices (e.g. the whole prison system). That shows that nobody ever bothered going down into the dungeon and actually checking whether the money the Iron Throne pays for a number of officials actually goes to existing officials (and not in the pockets of the Master of Coin and the Master of Whisperers).

The revenue increase is likely genuine. Littlefinger has a talent for that. I don't think he fools people there, he likely only exaggerates the amount of money Robert spends and puts the difference in his own pockets. The stolen money he likely invests in a similar fashion as he invents the money he actually invests in the name of the Iron Throne, with the most profitable investments and enterprises making money for him, while the riskier and less profitable (yet still profitable) investments remain with the Iron Throne.

For instance, the Iron Throne may have more shares in ships making more dangerous journeys than Littlefinger himself has.Vice versa, Littlefinger should own more profitable brothels in KL than the Iron Throne, etc.

Another source of income for Littlefinger seems to be blatant nepotism - you pay him off to get a mid-tier office in the royal treasury or the royal bureaucracy.

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7 hours ago, LindsayLohan said:

Tyrion also notes that many of the "Antler Men" were people heavily indebted to the crown via loan from Petyr.  Joffrey launched them, and any ability to recoup that money, into the Blackwater.

Interesting, isn't it? But Varys was the person who came to the busy-with-battle-preparations Hand of the King (Tyrion) and got his permission to kill off the Antler Men. Is this evidence that Varys and Littlefinger are working together?

47 minutes ago, zandru said:

It seems likely that Littlefinger practiced embezzlement, enriching himself from the proceeds of taxation, kickbacks from job seekers, a hefty cut of money he "earned" for the Iron Throne via his gouging schemes, finders fees on monies he borrowed from other houses, etc. We know that he wore some of it on his back, as fancy wear chosen by a man with little taste and probably color blind. Interestingly, not a cent went to his family holdfast in the Fingers. More staff were never hired. More sheep were never bought. Repairs were never made. Nothing was done to improve the lives of the increasingly few folks living there.

This is not a man you'd want to have in charge of a government. He's only in it for himself, and everybody else is on their own.

What if he was using the money to pay off people around the seven kingdoms - as we see him doing with Lyn Corbray in the Vale. Creating alliances and dependencies with strategic people in a low-profile, "someday I'll ask a favor" way.

Or he could be hiring sellswords who have not yet arrived in Westeros.

What if he is bankrolling someone like Salladhor Saan, who appears to gain his wealth from piracy and smuggling. Maybe he joined up with Stannis at the direction of Littlefinger.

He seems to express dismay when Robert (or someone) suggests hiring a Faceless Man to kill Daenerys, saying that this would be very expensive. So we know that he knows how much it costs to employ an assassin.

Also, I'm not so sure the family holdfast was just as it appeared. We know the Moles Town and other areas have vast underground networks. I would not be surprised if Petyr had something hidden underground at the Fingers or a different remote location. We saw how long it took Brienne to reach Crackclaw Point. Is there a place like that where Petyr could be hiding some reserves? Maybe one of the Sister Islands?

He could be spending money on all kinds of things.

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Posted (edited)

Littlefinger doesn't need to be so gauche as to outright steal or embezzle to make himself rich as master of coin. He can sell appointments, collect favors for certain deals and ultimately when you wield the entire economic might of the Seven Kingdoms, you know when and where to invest your own coin to make best return of the market (no insider trading laws). Sleazy and unethical? Yes. Outright illegal/treason? No.

Edited by GallowsKnight

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1 hour ago, Seams said:

What if he was using the money to pay off people around the seven kingdoms - as we see him doing with Lyn Corbray in the Vale.

You've got some great ideas of what Littlefinger might be doing with his ill-gotten gains! I doubt that he has a secret underground criminal lair in the Fingers (it's hard to dig, when your water table is a few inches below the surface). But elsewhere - that really sounds plausible.

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Honestly if Littlefinger hadn't been skimming off the top his entire career I'd be astonished. It's too much in his character to profit from such manipulation. There's plenty of circumstantial evidence that he was and between a prolific spender like Robert and later a war, there's all kinds of ways to turn a profit as a middleman.

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, LindsayLohan said:

Tyrion also notes that many of the "Antler Men" were people heavily indebted to the crown via loan from Petyr.  Joffrey launched them, and any ability to recoup that money, into the Blackwater.

Isn't it more likely that after the Antler Men had been executed, Littlefinger took away the money from the treasury and then forged records saying that the money had been loaned by those dead men?

Edited by The hairy bear

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12 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

We see how the system works with the embezzlement (likely done together with Varys) via non-existing offices (e.g. the whole prison system). That shows that nobody ever bothered going down into the dungeon and actually checking whether the money the Iron Throne pays for a number of officials actually goes to existing officials (and not in the pockets of the Master of Coin and the Master of Whisperers).

There had not been a confessor in dungeons since Baelor the Blest. No one had cleant that up. Not Baelor Breakspear, nor Bloodraven, nor Egg, nor Tywin.

12 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The revenue increase is likely genuine. Littlefinger has a talent for that. I don't think he fools people there, he likely only exaggerates the amount of money Robert spends and puts the difference in his own pockets.

Hard to do that much.

In England, the government revenue did rise, from £ 450 000 per year in time of James I to over £ 2 000 000 in Commonwealth. About 5-fold increase, not 10-fold.

But we see dramatic change coming home to Englishmen in time of Great Rebellion, in form of Assessment Committees and Excise Agents.

Nothing such has been seen in Westeros yet.

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, Jaak said:

There had not been a confessor in dungeons since Baelor the Blest. No one had cleant that up. Not Baelor Breakspear, nor Bloodraven, nor Egg, nor Tywin.

Actually, since the days of Daeron II. And since that dude was the royal torturer I daresay the office was effectively abolished because Daeron the Good did not want to torture his prisoners, no?

There is no indication that the Iron Throne pays a non-existing Lord Confessor right now. It just pays a lot of non-existing lesser officials. And one of those guys in Varys-Rugen.

Quote

Hard to do that much.

In England, the government revenue did rise, from £ 450 000 per year in time of James I to over £ 2 000 000 in Commonwealth. About 5-fold increase, not 10-fold.

But we see dramatic change coming home to Englishmen in time of Great Rebellion, in form of Assessment Committees and Excise Agents.

Nothing such has been seen in Westeros yet.

The impression we have here is that Littlefinger really invented (or very effectively uses) (pre-)modern investment techniques. He invests in shares, he invents taxes and tariffs that create great revenues, he takes turns debts and loans and turns them into investments, etc.

How this works in detail is unclear, but it is quite clear Littlefinger had real success back in Gulltown, and back then he had neither the resources nor the ability to really fool Jon Arryn into believing that he was a financial genius. And later he rose through the ranks of the treasury until he finally became Master of Coin.

If he had built a house of cards back in Gulltown it would have come tumbling down after Jon Arryn called him to court.

Edited by Lord Varys

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The impression we have here is that Littlefinger really invented (or very effectively uses) (pre-)modern investment techniques. He invests in shares, he invents taxes and tariffs that create great revenues, he takes turns debts and loans and turns them into investments, etc.

How this works in detail is unclear, but it is quite clear Littlefinger had real success back in Gulltown, and back then he had neither the resources nor the ability to really fool Jon Arryn into believing that he was a financial genius. And later he rose through the ranks of the treasury until he finally became Master of Coin.

If he had built a house of cards back in Gulltown it would have come tumbling down after Jon Arryn called him to court.

Agreed. It could not be a house of cards.

My point is that beating Aerys II-s net revenue 10-fold is a tall order. Exceeding it, sure. But not 10-fold.

What could give Tywin the mistakes impression of 10-fold increase is if Tywin looked at Petyr´s gross business turnover.

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