Thursday, February 13, 2014

Four Suicides in Two Weeks--What's Going on?

Update:  As of February 19th, there has been yet another suicide.  Monday, February 17th, another Chase investment banker, 37-year-old Ryan Crane, committed suicide by jumping thirty stories to his death.  He was stationed in Hong Kong. 

The rash of suicides from bankers and investment advisers that has taken place over the last two weeks is catching the attention of industry publications like Housing Wire and Business Times.  When I first saw this story a few days ago I did not pay it much attention.  Then this morning I saw a snippet about it again with a commentary that some of these deaths might not actually be suicides.  My interest was piqued, and I decided to look up the details.  Something truly strange is happening here, and it makes all of us who watch the housing and finance industry wonder what is coming next.
Housing Wire's financial reporter Trey Garrison first reported this story on January 31, 2014 when 50 year old Mike Dueker, a former Federal Reserve Economist was found dead from in Tacoma, Washington. The death was an apparent suicide.  At the time of his death, Dueker was the chief economist for Russell Investments and he had been missing since January 29, 2014. 
A few days before, on Sunday January 26, fifty-eight year old William Broeksmit, a former senior manager for Deutsche Bank, was found in his home dead of apparent suicide.  The following Tuesday, 39 year old Gabriel Magee, a vice president at JP Morgan Chase's London headquarters, apparently jumped to his death from a building in Canary Wharf.
Garrison reports that all of these men worked for companies that were under investigation for fraud, but as the San Francisco Business Times  points out in their commentary, the list of companies not under investigation is getting shorter and shorter.  Russell Investments was being investigated by New York State banking regulator Benjamin Lawsky, who had subpoenaed its records in an attempt to discover if there were any impropriety in the way that advisers recommended pension-fund investments.  (This is the same Lawsky I mentioned in yesterday's post who is publicly suspecting Ocwen Servicing of wrongdoing simply because their efficiency is "too good to be true.")  Specifically, Lawsky wanted to determine whether the advisers were receiving any type of benefits from the companies they recommended including job offers or payments in kind.  Deutsch Bank and JP Morgan Chase are also under investigation.
The parents of Gabriel Magee are apparently arguing that they do not believe that their son committed suicide and questioning many aspects of the suicide findings, including how Magee could have made his way to the roof of the building.
Most bizarre is the February 4th death of fifty-six year old Richard Talley, founder and CEO of American Title Services in Centennial, Colorado. Talley was found shot to death "seven or eight times" with a nail gun.  Colorado authorities have ruled his death a suicide also. (How many people do you know who would commit suicide that way? )   American Title Services is under investigation by Colorado authorities.
That is four deaths of prominent individuals in financial services and real estate in two weeks. Just a series of unlikely coincidences, or is something bigger coming that we need to be aware of?  At this point nobody knows, but this is all definitely very strange. 

1 comment:

  1. "Worst case of suicide I've ever seen" said more than 1 coroner fearing for his own life.