The banker suicide wave that started in late January has now become an epidemic, and it seems to be focusing on one bank: JP Morgan.
After the first suicide that took place in JPM's London headquarters, ending the life of 39 year old Gabriel Magee, a vice president in the investment bank’s technology department, next it was 37 year old Ryan Crane, an executive director in the firm's program trading division, who died under still unknown circumstances.
Moments ago a third JPMorgan banker committed suicide, this time at the JPMorgan Charter House Asia headquarters in central Hong Kong, where a 33 year old man who was said to have been an FX trader for JPM, just jumped to his death.
Not much is known yet about the circumstances of the suicide, however according to early reports, the man was 33-years-old, surnamed Lee, and believed to be a forex trader for JP Morgan.
Commuters noticed the man at the top of Chater House around 2pm to 3pm in the afternoon and called the police but policemen who arrived at the scene failed to convince the man not to jump. The deceased was sent to the hospital immediately but was pronounced dead on arrival. As several lanes on Connaught Road Central were closed because of the incident, traffic in the area were chaotic.
The man stands on the roof of Chater House in Central as
police try to talk him down. Photo: SCMP Pictures
An investment banker on Tuesday jumped to his death from the roof of Chater House in Central, where Wall Street bank JP Morgan has its Asia headquarters, several witnesses told the South China Morning Post.
Witnesses said the man initially went to the roof of Chater House, a 30-floor building in the heart of Hong Kong’s central business district – and later jumped. The incident happened between 2pm and 3pm, one witness said.
Several policemen were seen on the roof but apparently failed to convince the man not to jump, one of the witnesses said. Police later confirmed to the Post that a 33-year-old man – surnamed Li – was found in a dangerous position on the roof of Chater House on Connaught Road Central at 2.08pm local time. Li threw himself off the building before the city’s emergency crew arrived.
The man landed on the four-lane western-bound carriageway outside the building. A police spokeswoman said Li was taken to Ruttonjee Hospital, where he was declared dead at 2.31pm. Police are investigating the case.
According to several JP Morgan employees, the man was a junior-level investment banker who played a supporting role on various projects.
A Hong Kong-based JP Morgan spokeswoman said the bank was aware of the incident but it could not confirm at this stage whether the deceased was an employee of the bank. The bank is working with other parties including the police and the property manager of Chater House to follow up on the case, she added.
“There were lots of police, ambulance cars and even some firefighters at the scene, right in front of Chater House,” said one witness, a security guard at Jardine House, an office building opposite Chater House in Central.
“Connaught Road Central was blocked for nearly two hours in the afternoon,” he added.
Another witness working for a financial firm in Jardine House said he and his colleagues were having coffee at a nearby Starbucks when the suicide happened. They heard a heavy sound suddenly from the ground and later realised it was a man who jumped to his death.
“We thought it might have been a car tyre [exploding]. It’s sad to know it is a suicide case,” he said.
The incident apparently had some internal impact on JP Morgan’s business activities in Hong Kong – at least one business meeting was cancelled immediately after the suicide happened.
According to one manager working for a British bank in Hong Kong, his team were originally scheduled for a meeting with JP Morgan at 3pm but it was suddenly cancelled without explanation.
JP Morgan takes up 10 floors, from the 20th to 29th, of Chater House, one of the financial district’s landmark high-rises. It is the main regional head office location for the bank, which also houses its staff in Hong Kong in several other buildings across the city. Chater House also carries the logo of JP Morgan on the top corner of the building.
Hong Kong's On.cc Released photos of the suicide below (warning: graphic).
Perhaps what is most notable about this particular death is the reference that the man was involved with FX trading: as is well-known, this is a hot topic for banks around the world, as it is expected to be the next Libor-manipulation like bonanza for regulators and enforcers. Did he know too much?
Finally, via Financial Post, here is a chronological summary of all recent banker deaths:
Sunday, Jan. 26: London police found William Broeksmit, a 58-year-old former senior executive at Deutsche Bank AG, dead in his home after an apparent suicide.
Monday, Jan. 27: Tata Motors managing director Karl Slym died after falling from a hotel room in Bangkok in what police said could be possible suicide. Slym, 51, had attended a board meeting of Tata Motors’ Thailand unit in the Thai capital and was staying with his wife in a room on the 22nd floor of the Shangri-La hotel. Hotel staff found his body on Sunday on the fourth floor, which juts out above lower floors.
Tuesday, Jan. 28: a 39-year-old JPMorgan employee died after falling from the roof of the European headquarters of JPMorgan in London. The man, Gabriel Magee, was a vice president in the investment bank’s technology department, a source told WSJ.
Wednesday, January 29: Russell Investments’ Chief Economist Mike Dueker was found dead in an apparent suicide. Police said it appears Dueker took his own life by jumping from a ramp near the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Tacoma, Wash., AP reported. According to Bloomberg, Dueker, 50, had been missing since Jan. 29, and friends and law enforcement had been searching for him.
The week before, a U.K.-based communications director at Swiss Re AG died. The cause of death has not been made public.
Monday, February 3: 37-year-old JPMorgan Chase & Co executive director who died from unknown causes Feb. 3 appears to be the latest in a series of untimely deaths among finance workers and business leaders around the world in the past three weeks. Ryan Crane, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. employee who in a 14-year career at the New York-based bank rose to executive director of a unit that trades blocks of stocks for clients, died in his Stamford, Connecticut, home.
Tuesday, February 18: 33-year old JPMorgan forex trader is the latest in a string of suicides to take his life in Hong Kong.