9

This blog claims that:

I would call a rash of 36 deaths – grizzly murders, accidents and questionable suicides – in one year… suspicious. And that’s just this year. If you look back, this has been going on since at least 2011. So far, 36 bankers have died this year.

It then goes on to make a list of all the bankers who've had mysterious deaths. Two questions, really: is the list accurate, i.e. are all those people actually bankers and did they all die in the manner claimed, and mainly is this unusual given the number of bankers worldwide and the rate of such incidents in the general population? Are bankers more likely to die in a "suspicious" manner than other people?

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    Is this a notable claim? NoisyRoom seems to be a single blogger with a limited audience (Facebook page has only 55 likes.) Are others making the claim too? – Oddthinking Dec 28 '14 at 3:21
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    When you define "Banker" as "everyone in the world who has a job related to the finance industry", you are talking about millions of people worldwide. 36 of them dieing in a year isn't anything statistically significant, and considering that these people are all in working age, non-natural deaths aren't statistically significant either. – Philipp Dec 28 '14 at 3:42
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    @Philipp: That may be true, but we need evidence to support that. The claims about suspicious circumstances, and the relatively young age of most of the candidates make it a little harder than (number of bankers) * (mortality rate of office workers). – Oddthinking Dec 28 '14 at 3:49
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    I would say only 36 people dieing out of millions might be interesting, that number should be much higher – Tom J Nowell Dec 28 '14 at 19:04
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    Please consider this advice on discussion of suicide, while approaching this question. – Oddthinking Jan 3 '15 at 0:45
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+200

The list of deceased people, and the circumstances of their deaths, are substantially correct with some small errors - but that's to be expected in any reportage.*

  1. David Bird, 55, long-time reporter for the Wall Street Journal working at the Dow Jones news room — Still missing, but his credit card has been used in Mexico. [Confirmed] [Six months later]
  2. Tim Dickenson, a U.K.-based communications director at Swiss Re AG — Unknown circumstances. [Confirmed]
  3. William Broeksmit, 58, former senior manager for Deutsche Bank — He was found hung at a house. [Confirmed]
  4. Ryan Henry Crane, age 37, JP Morgan — Unknown circumstances. [Confirmed]
  5. Li Junjie, 33, Hong Kong JP Morgan — He jumped to his death from a 30 story building. [Confirmed]
  6. Gabriel Magee, 39, age JP Morgan employee — He jumped 500 ft from the top of the bank’s headquarters in central London. Magee had made plans earlier that day for dinner. [Circumstances of death confirmed, but not the dinner plans detail.]
  7. Mike Dueker, 50, who had worked for Russell Investments — He fell down a 50 foot embankment in what police are describing as a suicide. [Confirmed]
  8. Richard Talley, 57, was the founder and CEO of American Title (real estate titles) — Said to have committed suicide by shooting himself with a nail gun. Talley was found “with eight nail gun wounds to his torso and head” in his own garage. [Confirmed]
  9. James Stuart Jr. 70, Former National Bank of Commerce CEO was found dead in Scottsdale, AZ — Unknown cause of death. [Confirmed]
  10. Jason Alan Salais, 34 year old IT Specialist at JP Morgan since 2008 — Died from a heart attack. [Confirmed all but cause of death]
  11. Autumn Radtke, 28, CEO of First Meta, a Singapore-based virtual currency trading platform — Jumped from a 25 story building. [Confirmed]
  12. Eddie Reilly, 47, investment banker, Vertical Group, NY — Jumped in front of a LIRR train. [Confirmed]
  13. Kenneth Ballando, 28, investment banker, Levy Capital, NY — Jumped from the 6th story of his apartment building. [Confirmed]
  14. Joseph A. Giampapa, 55, corporate bankruptcy lawyer, JP Morgan Chase — Run over by a van. [Confirmed]
  15. Jan Peter Schmittmann, 57, voormalig topbestuurder ANB/AMRO, Laren, Nederland — Suspected murder/suicide. [Confirmed]
  16. Juergen Frick, 48, CEO Bank Frick & Co AG, Liechtenstein — He was shot to death. [Confirmed]
  17. Benoît Philippens, 37, directeur BNP Parisbas Fortis Bank, Ans, Belgium — She was shot to death. [Confirmed, but it was a "he" not a "she". His wife and nephew were also killed.]
  18. Lydia…, 52, banker Bred-Banque-Populaire, Paris — Jumped from the 14th floor of her office’s Paris Headquarters. [Confirmed]
  19. Andrew Jarzyk, 27, banker, PNC Bank, NY — Found floating in the Hudson River, drowned. [Confirmed]
  20. Carlos Six, 61, Hoofd Belastingdienst en lid CREDAF, België — Unknown cause of death. [Confirmed]
  21. Jan Winkelhuijzen, 75, Commissaris en Fiscalist (voormalig Deloitte), Nederland — Murder/suicide suspected. [Death confirmed, but cause thought to be suicide pact, not murder/suicide]
  22. Richard Rockefeller, 66, John D. Rockefeller, America — Plane crash. [Confirmed, but he wasn't a banker.]
  23. Mahafarid Amir Khosravi (Amir Mansour Aria), 45, bankeigenaar, zakenman en derivatenhandelaar, Iran — Khosravi was executed by hanging in Evin Prison in Tehran on May 24, 2014. [Confirmed, but he wasn't a banker, he was convicted for defrauding banks.]
  24. Lewis Katz, 76, banker, America — Plane crash. [Confirmed but he wasn't a banker, he owned newspapers.]
  25. Julian Knott, Directer Global Operations Center JP Morgan, 45, America — Unknown circumstances, but he and his wife were found unconscious before both passed away. [Confirmed, although it doesn't appear that his role was related to finance, but to technology.]
  26. Richard Gravino, IT Specialist JP Morgan, 49, America — Cause of death unknown. [Confirmed]
  27. Thomas James Schenkman, Managing Director Global Infrastructure JP Morgan, 42, America — Cause of death unknown. [Confirmed]
  28. Nicholas Valtz, 39, Managing Director Goldman Sachs, NY, America — He was found floating with his kite board. [Confirmed]
  29. Therese Brouwer, 50, Managing Director ING, Nederland — She died in the downing of Malaysian Air Flight MH17. [Confirmed]
  30. Tod Robert Edward, 51, Vice President M & T Bank, America — Ruled accidental death. [Confirmed]
  31. Thierry Leyne, 48, investor banker Anatevka S.A., Israël — Suicide. [Confirmed]
  32. Calogero Gambino, 41, Managing Director Deutsche Bank, America — Suicide. [Confirmed
  33. Shawn D. Miller, 42, Managing Director Citigroup, NY, America — He was found dead with his throat slashed in the bathtub. [Confirmed]
  34. Melissa Millian, 54, Senior Vice President Mass Mutual, America — Stabbed to death. [Confirmed]
  35. Thieu Leenen, 64, Relatiemanager ABN/AMRO, Eindhoven, Nederland — Unknown cause of death. [Unconfirmed]
  36. Geert Tack, 52, Private Banker ING, Haaltert, Belgium — Drowning. [Unconfirmed]

A rather broad definition of banker has been used - including people working for independent hedge funds and people working for banks but not involved in finance. A few names clearly do not belong on the list as bankers.

There is insufficient evidence here to demonstrate that there is (a) a conspiracy targeting bankers, or (b) an unexpected increase in suicides. That would require showing that there are significantly more deaths than might be normally expected in this ill-defined group.

As this issue gets reported, the Werther Effect (as discussed here) may cause additional deaths, in the absence of any other cause.

* The last two entries I failed to confirm. There were many articles about the people, but they were in Dutch and I was unable to establish that they were from reputable news sources, rather than conspiracy theory sites. I'd appreciate any Dutch speakers confirming these two.


This hasn't been a pleasant topic to research. If you are troubled by thoughts of suicide, please contact your local doctor or an organisation like the Samaritans or Lifeline in your area.

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    Relatiemanager (Relations Manager) and Private Banker are not even middle-manager level. These are like one level above a teller/cashier. – vartec Jan 6 '15 at 21:22
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    Also the "directors" mentioned few times actually mean a branch managers. Another point of data worth mentioning is that JP Morgan has quarter of a million employees and there are quite few banks with similar or higher number of employees (BoA, WF, HSBC, Citi). And these are just the western ones, not even counting Asian banks. – vartec Jan 6 '15 at 21:41
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There are plenty of online sources to confirm this list is accurate. I spot checked a few (Andrew Jarzyk, Li Junjie,Gabriel Magee, Ryan Henry Crane) and others have links to sources.

As to whether this is unusual, suicidal bankers are not unusual:

After the first batch of suicides early this year, Fortune Magazine wrote that banker suicides are not a new phenomenon. Clusters are known to occur whenever hardship strikes the industry, such as during the Great Depression or the Great Recession of a few years ago. In addition, sensationalistic reports of the deaths may lead to copycat fatalities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bankers appear to be more prone to suicide than any other profession, barring “engineers and scientists.” For the years 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2007, there were 329 suicides among workers in the finance sector, Fortune reported.

http://rt.com/usa/207463-citigroup-miller-death-suicide/

It appears over 90% of the list are suicides, natural causes such as heart attacks, plane crashes, road accidents and so on. I found some that look suspicious (Geert Tack,Benoit Philippens,Melissa Millan, Shawn Miller), but they're nothing to link them or support an overall claim of suspicious activity. Given that "bankers" is a group comprising many hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of people it's a sad fact that some of those people will die unexpectedly in any given year. I don't think there's enough evidence to suggest a conspiracy or widespread foul play.

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    Could you just include the spot check in the answer? Also, could you get the original CDC quote, as RT is not too reliable? – ike Jan 2 '15 at 18:36
  • CDC quote may have been a direct reponse to this Fortune article: fortune.com/2014/02/27/… – Colin Pickard Jan 2 '15 at 19:08
  • Possibly relevant: straightdope.com/columns/read/1588/… - I've always heard suicide data by profession was kind of iffy, so I was surprised to see a quote from the CDC. – Rob P. Jan 2 '15 at 19:22

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