Swamped, a novel by Manolis Aligizakis

        Although, after the meeting at Sewell’s, both Eteo and Robert began to have second thoughts about Mario’s new company, he offered them stock at the lowest level a new company would issue stock, and since the control of the stock was so good, they agreed to participate. This was despite their experience some fifteen months previously with another of Mario’s shell companies, Target Resources, of which each of them had taken a piece only to discover that Mario had played a bad game with them.
Usually, when a shell company becomes available for sale, all the initial seed stock is collected from the shareholders after all their share certificates are converted into bearer form. This means that whoever has a certificate in his hand can cash it in at any brokerage firm in Vancouver. Normally, therefore, bearer certs are lodged with a trustee, sometimes a lawyer, sometimes an accountant, or indeed any individual who can keep them safe and make them available to the purchasers on demand.
In the Target Resources deal, all the shares had been lodged for safekeeping with a woman associated with Mario on the understanding that she would only release the shares on instructions from two people involved in the deal. However, Mario wanted to have a bigger piece of the pie than his partners, so he made a side deal with a shady promoter and the trustee released all the stock to the new purchaser on Mario’s instructions alone, and without the deposit that was customary in any financial deal. The promoter ended up running around downtown Vancouver with a briefcase full of certificates that didn’t belong to him, and after he wasted a few certs on some of the scummiest people in VSE circles without being able to raise the funds to pay for the shell company, he went back to Mario and together they concocted a story that the certs had gotten lost.