‘What is the phrase?’ said Michel Gray with a grim face from his offices in Manhattan. ‘Dead men tell no tales?’
Michael, who is the Sunday Business Editor at the New York Post, said he saw a dark connection in the suicides of three top bankers in New York, London and Siena, Italy, which officially seem like a series of unconnected events.
After all, we see headlines of bankers committing suicide quite often, it’s sadly not very out of the ordinary.
The official story is they were a series of unrelated suicides, but there was a very dark connection which only Michael Gray could get to the bottom of – his journalism ended up winning awards.
He told UNILAD:
Starting in like 2013 I was covering these suicides one at a time, we’d had 40 of them between 2013-2014 around the world.
I just started to look for threads because no-one had a reason why we had 40 in the span of 18 months when we had ones and twos before and we had ones and twos after.
We were well past the financial crisis, [the collapse of major bank] Lehmann was 2008, so it wasn’t like the crash of 1929 when people were jumping out the windows.
This was 5-6 years after the recession so it had to be something so I started digging.
I was able to find some commonality in three of the suicides where authorities didn’t have any connections at all, and those involved Deutsche Bank…
Before we get any further into it, the three men in question were David Rossi, William Broeksmit and Calogero ‘Charles’ Gambino – all three of their deaths were within 17 months of one other.
David Rossi, 51, died on March 6 2013 in Siena, Italy after falling out of a window of his bank’s headquarters, William Broeksmit, 58, was found hanging from a dog lead tied to his door at his home in West London in January 2014 and Charles Gambino, 41, was found hanging from a banister at his home in Brooklyn, in October 2014.
The circumstances around these suicides raise more questions than they provide answers to and Michael Gray was looking into if there was a connection to a burgeoning financial scandal?
Warning: distressing content ahead:
Perhaps the most ‘suspicious’ death was David Rossi’s, who officially committed suicide by jumping out of a window.
Yet in the devastating footage of his death, this doesn’t quite add up – Mr Rossi can actually be seen facing the building he jumped from – not exactly the position of someone who had just jumped from a window.
As Mr Rossi lay dying, two indistinct men appear and inspect Mr Rossi on the ground, before seemingly calmly turning around and walking away – not trying to help or call for assistance.
Things became even more suspicious when Michael was told by Italian authorities, one of the men in the video was allegedly, Mr Rossi’s best friend.
The video indicates that someone who’s willingly committing suicide would not land in the position he landed in.
It looks even more suspicious when the Italian authorities informed us that one of the men in the video was his best friend.
That’s certainly not how I would want my best friend to react.
William Broeksmit was the highest ranking official to commit suicide during this dark period, so that’s where Michael began digging – as he was looking into the death of Mr Broeksmit, Mr Gambino was found dead.
It became apparent the two men knew each other but why wouldn’t they? They both worked for Deutsche Bank, wouldn’t it make sense for the two to have some professional connection?
Well, not according to Michael – he tells us because Deutsche is such a big bank, it would be quite rare for the two bankers in their positions to have any type of working relationship.
Mr Gambino was a lawyer for the bank and he was advising them on an ongoing investigation on the rigging of Libor – the inter-bank lending rate – which is essentially the benchmark for interest rates around the world. This is how he knew Mr Broeksmit
Hundreds of trillions of dollars around the world are tied up in Libor, and a few years ago, banks such as Deutsche, Barclays and RBS were found to have rigged the rate with dodgy data for their own profits.
There was another scandal involving Deutsche which was being investigated at precisely the time of Mr Broeksmit’s death, involving a man named Michele Faissola.
Faissola was head of Deutsche’s global rates unit – he was overseeing a major problem with Mr Rossi’s bank in Italy back in 2008, which was currently suffering a $367 million loss over one single transaction.
Of course losing the money was bad, but having to reveal the losses to the public were potentially even worse. Monte dei Paschi, Mr Rossi’s bank, was the oldest bank in the world and if it tumbled, the potential uncertainty would cause chaos. Luckily, according to Bloomberg, Faissola had an idea.
To get around the massive loss, Deutsche would make a deal with Monte dei Paschi, which would give them such a massive profit it would cancel out the millions of dollars they’d lost in 2008 – then they’d make a second transaction, which would run at a loss for Monte dei Paschi, but the loss would be spread out over a few years.
This would solve both of the immediate problems posed by the Italian bank. The idea went ahead, but not before William Broeksmit advised against it.
Of course, this shady dealing came to the fore and Deutsche’s top dogs were placed under investigation – including Mr Faissola.
Germany’s financial regulators even commissioned an independent audit into the dealings, and here’s what Bloomberg found:
It shows that auditors asked Faissola what happened that afternoon in London. Other participants recalled details and dialogue, the report says, but Faissola drew a blank about the event he’d helped run. Broeksmit wasn’t interviewed.
But on January 26, 2014, the day before the audit began, William Broeksmit’s body was found in his London home.
Obviously, this is all speculation, but Michael thinks there are enough unanswered questions here to merit further investigation.
David Rossi’s widow, Antonella Tognazzi, is making her way up the courts to try and get her husband’s death certified as a homicide.
One of the pieces of evidence which raises questions for Antonella, is the alleged suicide note. In the note, Rossi refers to his wife as Toni, something which she said he never did.
It’s worth noting, upon inspection of the horrible footage of Mr Rossi’s death, he lands feet first, rather than head first – as he would likely have if he’d tipped out of the window.
Michael thinks the story still isn’t fully uncovered:
The Italian authorities could turn around and reopen David Rossi’s death as a homicide.
I don’t think the chances of that are particularly high, there are already two rulings against it, sustaining the suicide verdict but the widow and lawyers are pressing up the Italian courts to get this reopened.
Certain hunches have been borne out in the legal system, namely that of Deutsche Banks rigging of the books of Monte dei Paschi.
Michael confirms to me Monte dei Paschi has been bailed out by the government twice since these events.
Michael hasn’t given up on his search for the truth and he still posts regular updates about the suicide of bankers on his blog. He’s yet to find any more information which opens the story further, but if the Italian courts agree to reopen David Rossi’s case, then who knows what could happen?
In the meantime, this story is still highly relevant, says Michael. He revealed Citigroup bank have just hired a mental health nurse for their Canary Wharf offices, saying:
I mean here we are in 2017, we’re three years from all the suicides and Citi has only just hired a mental health nurse for their bankers.
From March of 2013 to July 2014 there were 40 suicides in 17 months just in financial services and now it’s maybe one every six months.
Michael did look elsewhere for other patterns, but found nothing.
Other banks did have higher suicide rates over this span but there were no connections which Michael could find.
However, this isn’t the end for Michael and his investigation and he continues to work to uncover more details surrounding the deaths of these three men.