3 deaths and a missing reporter – all with ties to finance and Wall Street investigations

This one is strange, very life-imitates-thriller, but I can’t get it out of my mind. Via David Dayen and Twitter, we learn that a number of people tied to investigations of Wall Street and the finance industry have turned up dead, and one financial reporter has gone missing, all in the space of just a few days.

I know; doesn’t seem likely that this is foul play. Still, the odds of all this being chance are awfully high. And like I said, I can’t get it out of my mind. Neither could Dayen apparently. So I’ve decided to put it into yours as well.

Via Pam Martens at WallStreetOnParade:

In a span of four days last week, two current executives and one recently retired top ranking executive of major financial firms were found dead. Both media and police have been quick to label the deaths as likely suicides. Missing from the reports is the salient fact that all three of the financial firms the executives worked for are under investigation for potentially serious financial fraud.

The first case looks like a legit suicide. The dead guy is the one who would presumably take the heat when the whistle-blower spoke out the next day:

bank-failuresThe deaths began on Sunday, January 26. London police reported that William Broeksmit, a top executive at Deutsche Bank who had retired in 2013, had been found hanged in his home in the South Kensington section of London. The day after Broeksmit was pronounced dead, Eric Ben-Artzi, a former risk analyst turned whistleblower at Deutsche Bank, was scheduled to speak at Auburn University in Alabama on his allegations that Deutsche had hid $12 billion in losses during the financial crisis with the knowledge of senior executives. Two other whistleblowers have brought similar charges against Deutsche Bank.

The next two, however …

Just two days after Broeksmit’s death, on Tuesday, January 28, a 39-year old American, Gabriel Magee, a Vice President at JPMorgan in London, plunged to his death from the roof of the 33-story European headquarters of JPMorgan in Canary Wharf. According to Magee’s LinkedIn profile, he was involved in “Technical architecture oversight for planning, development, and operation of systems for fixed income securities and interest rate derivatives.”

Magee’s parents, Bill and Nell Magee, are not buying the official story according to press reports and are planning to travel from the United States to London to get at the truth. One of their key issues, which should also trouble the police, is how an employee obtains access to the rooftop of one of the mostly highly secure buildings in London.

There’s more about Magee, and also JPMorgan’s legal trouble, in the article. This one could also be legit, another suicide, though I’d like to see that “rooftop access” question answered. Then this …

One day after Magee’s death, on Wednesday, January 29, 2014, 50-year old Michael (Mike) Dueker, the Chief Economist at Russell Investments, is said to have died from a 50-foot fall from a highway ramp down an embankment in Washington state. Again, suicide is being presented by media as the likely cause. … According to a report in the New York Times in November of last year, Russell Investments was one of a number of firms that received subpoenas from New York State regulators who are probing the potential for pay-to-play schemes involving pension funds based in New York. No allegations of wrongdoing have been made against Russell Investments in the matter.

This too could be legit. But the writer correctly asks, “Do people holding Ph.D.s really attempt suicide by jumping 50 feet?” I’d ask that as well. Bouncing off the pavement, and in the case of the second guy, after screaming down 50 floors first, wouldn’t be my first choice of an easy exit.

And then the reporter:

The case of David Bird, the oil markets reporter who had worked at the Wall Street Journal for 20 years and vanished without a trace on the afternoon of January 11, has this in common with the other three tragedies: his work involves a commodities market – oil – which is under investigation by the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for possible manipulation. … Bird left his Long Hill, New Jersey home on that Saturday, telling his wife he was going for a walk. An intentional disappearance is incompatible with the fact that he left the house wearing a bright red jacket and without his life-sustaining medicine he was required to take daily as a result of a liver transplant.

I know we’re not living in a novel, just the real and dreary world. Still, as the article points out, all this in just 18 days? There’s more; please do read. If this isn’t a puzzle, it’s certainly a puzzlement.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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