by E.B. Tucker, Casey Research:
David Rossi picked a painful way to commit suicide.
On March 6, 2013, the successful 51-year-old bank executive apparently jumped backwards out of his third-story office window. He landed on his back 30 feet below in the cobblestone alley behind his office.
If this sounds suspicious to you, you’re not alone. Rossi’s wife, Antonella, believes he was murdered. She says he was killed because he “knew too much.” The facts seem to back up her claim.
A closed-circuit security camera in the cobblestone alley caught footage of Rossi’s backwards fall. The video is time- and date-stamped and the body is clearly his. What the camera catches in the minutes that follow is even more suspicious.
After he hits the ground, an object falls from the window, landing next to him. Police said it was his wristwatch, minus the band.
A few minutes later, the video shows two men walking into the alley. They are fellow bank executives. One man walks over to look at Rossi. He appears to be checking to make sure he’s dead. The other man, a high-ranking finance executive at the bank, lingers about 20 feet behind him. Neither man seems shocked, panicked, or in a hurry to call for help.
The coroner noted several odd conditions that don’t fit with suicide. Rossi had scrapes and bruises on both arms…the kind you might expect to see if two big goons grabbed him against his will and tossed him out the window.
He also had an “L-shaped” gash on his head. It was the type of wound that comes from the blunt force of an object striking the head. This is separate from any damage caused by hitting the cobblestone street below.
The facts don’t add up. We agree with Rossi’s wife and other skeptics. He did not kill himself. He was murdered. And just like Antonella said, “He knew too much.”
As director of communications, Rossi was the nerve center of the bank. He knew everything that went on, good or bad. And it was his job to handle how that information was released.
Digging back through that same information holds the clues to the likely motive. It shows that this wasn’t just a case of a few crooked bankers running a scheme to enrich themselves.
Instead, it shows that our entire financial system is rotten to the core.
All Schemes and Scams Eventually Surface
Less than two weeks before David Rossi jumped, fell, or was pushed backwards out of his office window, Italian financial police raided his home and office. What we know now is that most of his colleagues, including the guys who checked to make sure he was dead after the fall, are under indictment for various counts of financial wrongdoing.
The bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, is the oldest in the world. Founded in 1472, it managed to survive more than five centuries of change. All that staying power proved no match for modern financial derivatives.
In 2008, the bank faced insolvency. It needed a bailout…so it concocted a scheme to pass muster with the regulators. This way, it could take the bailout and sort out the consequences later.
The scheme, called Project Santorini, worked like this: Monte dei Paschi would borrow money from Deutsche Bank. It would use that money to buy derivative contracts tied to price movements in other securities it owned.
Derivatives function like financial insurance. The bank bought and sold insurance against future price movements of assets it already owned.
Some of those assets had cratered in value during the fourth quarter of 2008 as the U.S. markets collapsed. This created huge losses for the bank on paper. It needed to cover up those losses. Deutsche Bank arranged a solution.
But just like any white-collar scheme, before you know it, you’re spending all of your time covering up the last cover-up. By 2009, Monte dei Paschi needed Deutsche Bank to create more derivatives to cover losses from the last batch. This time, they called the deal Project Alexandria.
Eventually, the ruse lost its effect. In the weeks before Rossi went out the window, both Monte dei Paschi and Deutsche Bank executives knew they had a problem.
Project Santorini, Project Alexandria, and at least another 30 similar transactions had the banks’ fingerprints all over them.
Meanwhile, bankers from Seattle to Siena kept turning up dead. Most of them didn’t have financial, marital, or personal problems. Here one day and gone the next. The press didn’t ask many questions.
In total, 72 bankers turned up dead, by our count. If the same number of auto industry executives mysteriously died in such a short amount of time, we’d have a congressional investigation to find out why.
But we dug a little deeper… As you’ll see, these mysterious deaths are not just random coincidences. You see, when it comes to our corrupt financial system, everything is connected in one way or another…
Our Interconnected Banking System
On Sunday morning, January 26, 2014, William Broeksmit’s wife returned from a run to find him hanging by a dog leash under a door threshold. He scribbled short suicide notes to his three kids, wife, and longtime friend Anshu Jain, former co-CEO of Deutsche Bank.
Earlier this month, I flew to meet with Broeksmit’s son, Val. Turns out we were classmates more than 20 years ago.
Val’s upset about his father’s death. There are too many unanswered questions. For the past two years, he’s been trying to answer them without much help from anyone involved.
Bill Broeksmit was famous in an obscure sliver of high finance. He was a pioneer in the use of derivative and interest rate swap contracts. He developed risk management techniques in the 1980s that fundamentally changed Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, and several other firms. Unlike a mercenary trader or hedge fund manager, Bill was just a very smart banker.
His son told me that, when he died, he wasn’t having personal or marital problems. He told me exactly what his father was worth…and while it’s not my place to share specifics, I can tell you he was a long way from having money problems. If anything, the 58-year-old was bored. He’d recently retired for the third time.
Just days before his death, Bill and his wife returned from a vacation in India. They missed Val’s birthday and were set to have brunch with him just an hour after Bill killed himself. Bill also had a ticket to fly to New York the next day.
He had appointments with his lawyer and a tennis match scheduled with a friend.
None of this seems to fit the description of a man who decides to hang himself with a dog leash while his wife is out for a run. What is clear, however, is Bill Broeksmit’s death is directly related to David Rossi and the Monte dei Paschi scheme.
One Big Daisy Chain
Val told me his mother was understandably stunned when she found Bill hanging. She kept repeating, “Call Michele, call Michele”…so that’s what he did.
Michele Faissola was the global head of asset management for Deutsche Bank. While it’s not the first person you’d think to call when you find your spouse dead, the two were coworkers.
Faissola showed up in what Val said felt like minutes. He wanted to see the scribbled suicide notes, documents, and computers Bill left behind. Val told me it seemed like Faissola was looking for something. But, in fairness to Faissola, Val doesn’t know what that something was.
Now that he’s facing charges alongside David Rossi’s colleagues, it’s clear that Faissola did have an interest in Broeksmit. Just before his death, he was a director at Deutsche Bank Trust Corporation in New York. Based on his long history with risk management, he would have likely been aware of what products the bankers used to cover Monte dei Paschi’s losses. He also would likely have been called on to testify in any investigation related to the deals.
Faissola comes from a connected Italian family. He was involved in introducing and arranging the Monte dei Paschi deals that eventually landed the bank in regulatory trouble.
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