Thomas J. Hughes had everything to live for. He was twenty-nine years old and had a long, prosperous life ahead of him. He had a job he loved at a prestigious Park Avenue investment bank in New York City. And Thomas’ friends described him as happy, jovial, good looking, and very sociable. He was single and was living in a million dollar apartment. Why then on the morning of May 28th did Thomas go up to the roof of his luxury apartment building and jump off, falling twenty-four stories to his death?
The press is satisfied with calling this just another case of Wall Street high pressure and stress becoming too much for someone. Evidence of drug use was found in Thomas’ apartment leading the mainstream media to conclude that this was just a mix of drugs, alcohol, and the fear of failure.
Thomas’ father, John, admitted that his son was under a lot of pressure, but insisted that his son loved his work. He stated, “If you met him you would say this is the opposite person who would seem like the kind of person who was considering taking this type of action.” Thomas left no note nor gave any indication that he could be contemplating such an act. Yet ,Thomas is dead after falling twenty-four stories.
Nothing more to see here, right? Well, not so fast. Thomas’ case is just the latest in a rising tide of such deaths. It seems that bank executive is becoming a very high-risk profession. Since January 2013, there have been over seventy suspicious deaths of high-level bank executives around the world. Many of these classified as suicides and many of those by leaping off of high buildings, though one banker supposedly shot himself seven times with a nail gun! Now that’s a way for a man to die.
And there seems to be a particularly high concentration of these “suicides” involving current or former employees of JP Morgan. The same JP Morgan that was one of the six companies recently found guilty of manipulating the foreign exchange market and fined billions.
Maybe this is all coincidence. Maybe this is all some kind of statistical fluke, but then again, maybe not. There very well could be something dark and sinister protecting itself.
Theories abound by what’s at the root of this and there may very well be more than one motivation at work. The deaths could be to silence whistle-blowers and to deter any who might expose efforts to manipulate markets. Many suspect that the high frequency trading done by computers is rigged and an insider who might leak the details could have their “account reduced to zero” if you know what I mean.
Late last year, Melissa Millan, a senior vice president with the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, was jogging when she was attacked and stabbed in the chest with an “edged weapon”. She died on the jogging path and was found sometime later by a motorist. She had not been robbed nor sexually assaulted. Is there any connection between Millan’s murder and the surge of bank suicides? Could be.
It’s now known that Millan had access to confidential and highly sensitive information about the profits large banks are making on what the industry calls “dead peasants insurance”. Dead peasants insurance is officially called corporate-owned life insurance (COLI) or bank-owned life insurance (BOLI). These are life insurance policies that the banks take out on their employees. When a so insured employee dies, the insurance pay out goes to the bank. The employees or the employees’ family may not even be aware that such a policy exists.
These policies build up a cash value that is earned on a tax-free basis. In addition, any death benefit paid out is free of any federal tax liability. These dead peasant insurance policies therefore could have a significant impact on the profitability of the banks holding them. The dollar amount and the profitability impact are tightly held secrets however. For some reason, the banks do not want the impact made public despite shareholders having the right to know where a company’s profits come from.
Millan had intimate knowledge about the financial impact of such policies and she ends up brutally murdered. Maybe it’s a coincidence. Maybe all these deaths are just terrible coincidences. Or maybe our financial institutions are criminal enterprises hiding their nefarious activities at all costs. The “too big to fail” center of our economy may very well be rotten to the core.