I am writing a business letter and I would like to bring it to a directing manager of another company's attention that as far as I am concerned, unfortunately I do not feel good, and I want to refer to some fishy activities and some immoral, dishonest and fraudulent business dealings of some people who are interfering between the two company's business affairs (mine and his companies) and mention that for some reasons they would like everything not to work properly. No matter how, they are trying to make their own benefits and they are acting up. (Consider them as some people who were trying to achieve this business prior to the contract between the owner of that company and I and at the time being they are green with envy). In such cases we say:

  • I feel there are some concealed hands in the story.

  • I feel there are some people behind the curtain.

I hope I could make myself understood. If so, please let me know what shall one say in the identical situation (not only in a very formal business letter, but in everyday conversation; because I am not looking for something too formal.)

  • Once again, a quest for the "folksy" way of stating things. :)
    – TimR
    Jun 10, 2017 at 11:00
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo I see it is really difficult and time consuming for you to imagine what I talk about and interpret them in your language. I am so sorry because of my questions specifications. :)
    – A-friend
    Jun 10, 2017 at 11:23
  • it is not difficult to interpret your request -- I'm only commenting that it is possible to express an idea clearly without having to render it with a folksy idiom or pithy saying.
    – TimR
    Jun 10, 2017 at 13:38

3 Answers 3


We say that someone is working or acting behind the scenes to do something, in your case, to interfere with the relationship, to come between you and your customer.

Such "immoral, dishonest, and fraudulent" activities can be called dirty dealing or underhanded dealing (since you ask about hands).


There are a number of ways to express this, depending on which metaphor you want to use. For example if you want to continue the theatrical theme, you can describe the person as a "bad actor" in the deal, or talk about any "unsavory characters" involved.

Alternately, if you think there is a problem with the deal, you can say there is "a fly in the ointment".

If you want to talk about a hidden danger (from a bad actor), you can say there is "a snake in the grass".


Either what Tᴚoɯɐuo said, or "under the table"/"under the counter". E.g. "I suspect that the deal involves some under-the-table transactions".

I'm not sure if these terms are primarily used in AmE, BrE or both, however. "under the counter" sounds more AmE to me.

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