May 01, 2014 I Lee Arnold

Suicide, Omen or Political Murder: 2014 Banker Death Count Reaches Double Digits

Another banker death was reported last week, this one in Paris, and when lumped together with the demise of at least a dozen others recently, it certainly appears there might be a conspiracy afoot whose masterminds are targeting them for death.

From the consumer side of the equation it’s not hard to imagine someone might want to kill a banker, or have one killed. A few years ago I hit a financial sinkhole, where the money coming in was far less than the amount of money needing to go out. As a result, I over drafted my bank account by one dollar and some change. This triggered an over-draft fee $35 to be assessed to the account. Rather than settling the account immediately, I opted to pay a few bills, buy some food and let it ride until the next check came in. When I finally put some cash back in the account, I found out it was in the hole by more than $300.


Apparently after so many days with my account in the hole, it triggered another set of fees. This time, it was daily fees of $35 for every day that passed without settling the account. So my mistake of over drafting the account by an amount one no greater than what one might find in change lying underneath the driver’s seat of the car, became a bill equaling more than a minimum wage worker in the US makes in a 40-hour work week.

Practices like these are infuriating, especially when you think about the interest payments that are given to bank customers with healthy accounts. The healthier the account, the more more interest, aka free money, the bank gives you. The more unhealthy the account, the more hard-earned money bank takes from you.

This doesn’t even take into account the banking industry’s culpability in US housing market collapses and other more global economic struggles they have been credited with causing.

So it’s surprising to find an angry mob of consumers aren’t the culprits most often placed at the center of conspiracy theories around the recent deaths. Instead, the predominant conspiracy theories surrounding the deaths claim they are being orchestrated by big shots from the administrative side of the banking industry — government.

A banker, known only as Lydia, leaped from her office window Tuesday, April 22, at Bred-Banque-Populaire in France and fell to her death. She is the tenth banker, and possibly even the 33rd depending on the source, to be killed, or to have committed suicide, in 2014.

A few of the others commonly cited are:

  • William Broeksmit, a retired risk manager for Deutsche Bank, who was found hanging in his residence Jan. 26.
  • Karl Slym, managing director of India’s Tata Motors Ltd, who fell to his death from the window of a Bangkok hotel Jan. 26.
  • Gabriel Magee, a senior IT programmer at JP Morgan’s European headquarters, jumped to his death from Canary Wharf tower in London Jan. 29.
  • Mike Dueker, chief economist at Russell Investments, fell to his death after going over a fence beside the highway and falling down an embankment near the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State Jan. 29.
  • Richard Talley, founder and CEO of American Title Services, allegedly shot himself at least eight times with a nail gun at his Colorado home Feb. 4 (It should be noted he was being actively investigated by Colorado state insurance regulators for undisclosed reasons).
  • Tim Dickenson, a communications director for Swiss Re AG in London, was found dead the week of Jan. 20. Details of his death still haven’t been released.
  • Ryan Henry Crane, a JP Morgan employee, was found dead in his Stamford, Connecticut home Feb. 3. An official cause of death hasn’t been released, but it reportedly hinges upon toxicology test results.
  • Li Junjie, a junior-level trader working for JP Morgan in Hong Kong, leaped off the JP Morgan building to his death Feb. 18.
  • Kenneth Bellando, an investment banker with Levy Capital Partners in New York, and former JP Morgan employee, jumped from the roof of his apartment building March 12

James Stuart Jr, a former National Bank of Commerce CEO, who died Feb. 19, is often included in this list, but he was 57 and his cause of death, or whether it was suspected to be suicide, has not been publicly released that I can find, so it might have been one of natural causes. 

Either times are tough in the banking industry, or there is something more nefarious at work here.

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People took to the streets during The Great Depression following the New York Stock Exchange crash of 1929.

Banker Suicides During Hard Times

On October 30, 1929 Winston Churchill was in New York’s Savoy-Plaza Hotel. That morning when he arose and looked out his window he saw a crowd of people gathered in the street below. As he gazed down, the body of a man zipped by and crashed into the ground below. This was the day after Black Tuesday, which remains among the most significant, single-day crashes in the history of the US stock market.

That’s what Churchill allegedly told the Daily Telegraph during an interview in December of 1929 anyway. It might be true, but he was a politician, and even the great ones are prone to rhetoric from time to time.

I’ve never been sure why the two most famous days of the 1929 crash have always been called Black Thursday and Black Tuesday, when being “in the black” is considered a good thing by an accountant reporting on a business’s finances, but this isn’t really the place for such pondering with any great detail, so I’ll move on.

Investment professionals did commit suicide following the massive stock crashes on the “black” days of October of 1929, but since I’ve already paraphrased the words of one famous person from the history books in this piece, I’ll go ahead and paraphrase another, Mark Twain, rumors of the rampant self-inflicted deaths have been greatly exaggerated. (I’m not the first to paraphrase his exaggerated death quote either. In fact, no one ever seems to get it exactly right.)

A Slate Magazine article openly wondering why we weren’t seen mass suicides during the banking “crisis” of 2008, claimed only four of the 100 suicides, or suicide attempts, reported by the New York Times between October 24, 1929, aka Black Thursday, and the end of the year, were directly attributed to the crash itself.

That’s not to say there weren’t more than just the four suicides the Times linked to the crash, because more certainly did occur in New York and elsewhere, and a handful of suicides were even reported during the similarly named crash in 1987. There is no evidence to support claims like the one made by Will Rogers who said those wishing to leap from a window had to get in line behind countless others to do so. It’s likely quotes from the likes of Rogers, Churchill, and others perpetuated the rumor of rampant suicides.

The current situation is quite different than those surrounding previous crashes in that the entire industry is taking heat for actions alleged to go beyond the scope of what is legal and moral. They are also different in that the current league of investment pirates’ are perceived to have reaped profits from their actions, rather than losing everything they have in life like their predecessors did in 1929.

Another difference is the current crew of money professionals has to deal with the pressure of being under the watchful eye of government spies, being considered public enemy number one by many, and being beholden to politicians who often better resemble warmongers than public servants.

So the environment is ripe for conspiracy theories to flourish and with each new death, the conspiracy theories surrounding the deaths flourish by an exponential amount.

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Protestors hit the streets during the economic turmoil in Greece.

Banker Deaths are the Result of Conspiracy

If you have a lot of time on your hands, and who doesn’t, you could spend the better part of an afternoon just watching YouTube videos about the conspiracy behind the banker deaths of 2014.

Among the most popular theories proposed is that we are on the precipice of a global economic collapse so catastrophic and irreversible, that those with knowledge of the system and access to data the Average Joe doesn’t see, are opting to die now, rather than face the days lying ahead for the rest of us.

Our pending doom has been speculated since at least 1972, when an MIT study looked at the rate of population growth versus resources consumption and projected a global collapse, complete with a significant population decline, by the year 2030. Some still claim the world is right on track with MIT’s projections, but even according to them we’re still a few years from the kind of resource depletion likely to set off global panic among bankers.

The tumbling European economy is more likely to be considered a pressing issue at the moment for bankers than depleted resources are at this point, although resources could play a major role in how things play out.

The economic turmoil in Greece, where more than one in four are unemployed, and the economy as a whole has shrunk by 25% in the four years following a bailout totaling billions of dollars, means the nation isn’t likely to see a significant recovery soon.

Record unemployment rates have also been reported in France, where the number of unemployed doubled in 2013 to a total of 11%.

Then there are the volatile situations in Ukraine and Russia. The super-simplified version of that situation is that a political upheaval earlier this year in Ukraine resulted in the ousting of its Russia-friendly president, causing Russia to raise prices on the natural resources it provided to the already cash-strapped country. There is much more to it than that, but this piece is already going to be long enough, and the situation seems to change from day to day.

It just so happens Russia is also a major source for petroleum products for all of Europe, and is a major supplier of natural gas as well. Should Russia decide to drastically raise prices for everyone, or just cut the EU off entirely, it would likely set off a domino effect of global economic strife.

So whose ready for World War III?

Apparently not the money-industry folks who have died by their own hand this year, if any of these factors are even relevant to their deaths. It is just a conspiracy theory at this point, right?

Then there is the theory the deaths are related to the allegations of banks conspiring together to maliciously manipulate international currency exchange rates to benefit themselves.


The FOREX theory is one that might also have some legs to it, especially when it comes to JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank, who were both named in a lawsuit filed by investors in US District Court. Ten other banks were also named in the lawsuit. The plaintiffs claim to have evidence, such as electronic communications, proving the conspiracy to manipulate exchange rates had been going on since at least 2003.

If you go down the list of 2014 bank-related deaths provided earlier, which again might not even be a complete list depending on the sources you consider credible, you might notice almost half of them were currently employed at one of the dozen banks listed in the lawsuit, and another one or two them allegedly worked previously at one of the banks being sued.

Currency exchange rates can make or break a nation’s economy as it directly affects other nations’ interest in doing buying and selling goods with it. If this false manipulation occurred, and it seemingly did, it wouldn’t be a major stretch to claim it might be at least somewhat responsible for the economic struggles of nations such as Greece.

Given the international impact such actions could have, it’s no wonder some conspiracy theorists believe the rash of suicides might actually be a rash of well-orchestrated politically-motivated murders instead.

The influence of money inevitably equals power, and banks are at the center of finance, so banking is an inherently high-stakes power struggle with potentially great consequences when things go wrong. Whether this year’s banker deaths are the result of money and power converging to avenge the shenanigans of bankers, or whether it’s just one of those weird coincidences, remains to be seen.

Officially, none of the deaths have been ruled suspicious. Neither the guy who shot himself with a nail gun at least eight times, nor the guy who jumped over a fence by the freeway and subsequently went over an embankment, are officially being considered a suspicious deaths, despite their sounding quite suspicious to a number of people who read the news reports.

It’s likely we’ll all continue playing the guessing game about the banker deaths of 2014 for many years, until eventually, someone, somewhere, who is currently directly involved in an actual conspiracy to kill bankers for whatever reason, decides to come forward and pull back the curtain of secrecy.

Of course, if there isn’t someone who eventually comes forward with salacious details about hit men hunting down bankers, the conspiracy theories currently doing their best to break the Internet, will undoubtedly continue on in perpetuity.

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