On avait truqué les comptes.
aw naa-vay trew-kay lay KAWT. Click below to hear this.*
The books had been cooked Someone had cooked the books.
We don’t know who the scoundrel is, but someone in the company “doctored” the accounts. No doubt that person is long gone, enjoying life on a beach somewhere in the sun.
Note that in French, you’re not actually cooking the books. That’s what happens when you drop your livre de cuisine (cookbook) into the boeuf bourguignon. No one keeps “books” anymore in any case. The financial records reside in a computer, and are called les comptes: accounts.
As for the verb tense in this sentence, it’s the pluperfect, or plus-que-parfait (which translates as “more than perfect”). In this case, perfect has nothingf to do with superiority. It’s related to the Latin factus, which means done. The perfect tense expresses an action that is done, finished; the plus-que-parfait expresses an action that was done before another action was done.
In practical terms, that means–in a story we can imagine around this sentence–that the disappearance of various files from the office and the odd behavior of a key employee lead to the discovery that someone had cooked the books. On avait truqué les comptes.
Truquer, by the way, has nothing at all to do with cooking, unless you are slipping spinach into your fussy eater’s spaghetti sauce. It means to fiddle, alter, trick.
*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file: