Questions (and few answers) after Freddie CFO suicide

April 22, 2009

David Kellermann, acting chief financial officer of troubled U.S. mortgage giant Freddie Mac, was found dead in his suburban Virginia home after apparently committing suicide.

Kellermann, 41, was named Freddie Mac’s acting CFO last September after the Treasury Department seized the company, and its sibling mortgage agency Fannie Mae, as the agencies faced deep losses on a crashing U.S. housing market that was rapidly engulfing other financial institutions.

The death of Freddie’s acting finance chief follows several high-profile suicides that have been linked to the global financial collapse. German billionaire businessman Adolf Merckle threw himself in front of a train in January after heavy losses on the stock market. In December, Frenchman Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, 65, co-founder of money manager Access International, was found dead in a New York office building, reportedly distraught over losing up to $1.4 billion in client money to Bernard Madoff’s fraud.

Unanswered questions
In March, Freddie Mac said that it was cooperating with the Securities and Exchange Commission in an investigation and that employees have been interviewed by investigators.

A 16-year veteran of Freddie Mac, Kellermann had played a key role in helping the firm navigate accounting scandals and answer questions from regulators and investors who put the company under intense scrutiny as the U.S. housing market ended a five-year boom in 2006.

“Freddie Mac knows of no connections between this terrible personal tragedy and the ongoing regulatory inquiries discussed in our SEC filings,” said David Palombi, the executive communications officer for the mortgage finance company.

Attorney General Eric Holder
said he had no idea whether the apparent suicide of a senior official at Freddie Mac was related to investigations of the troubled mortgage giant.

Bonuses and private security
According to the neighbors and company officials who spoke to the New York Times, Kellermann had received a bonus of about $800,000 a few weeks back, on the heels of a public outcry over executive compensation. According to neighbors, Kellermann hired a private security firm after reporters approached his house to ask about his bonus.

Why?
The question behind every suicide and the hardest one to answer. While details remain sketchy as to the reason behind Kellermann’s death, Charlie Gasparino at the Daily Beast writes that his death is seemingly a tragic trend that “underscores the tragic personal cost of the financial meltdown.”

While the pressure of his job and the deep impact of the crisis may be an obvious motive, Megan McArdle from The Atlantic writes that “you don’t commit suicide because you’re mad at regulators. You commit suicide because you have deep mental health issues.”

40 comments

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Suicides are always tragic – but we have to look deeper to see if the stresses of his job prompted Kellermann to take anti-depressants or other psychotropic drugs which are known to cause suicide.

The “deep mental health issues” described by Megan McArdle are all too often caused by psychiatric drugs which are prescribed all too freely with disregard for their dangerous side effects.

We need to dig deeper to discover what psychiartic drugs Kellermann was taking to help understand the real cause of this tragedy.

Posted by Bob Johnson | Report as abusive

REGARDLESS OF WORK-RELATED STRESS (CRISIS), I successful and brilliant man (or woman) would not commit suicide when there is a loving family behind him. I’m not blaming the family. Is it possible other forces were involved in his, other many other top executive suicides over the years (i.e. Enron)? I don’t know this man, but the ‘why’ question appears to be answer for many of these cases.

Posted by Marcus Peak | Report as abusive

I can only venture a guess but being a former Freddie Mac employee who got to know the guy a little bit my thesis is that he’s either manic-depressive or has manic-depressive tendencies. The man always stood out when it came to what he wore to work from the crazy bow ties and khaki’s and golf shirts of all crazy colors. Just not something you saw every day and you knew when he was in the building because nobody dressed quite like him. Nobody. Thats what made him special too though. He seemed to identify very well with people and always had a smile on his face and seemed a very happy go-lucky, hard-working and extremely bright individual. And I’m not surprised when I read that they had the most amazing decorations on their house for Christmas, Halloween or even Valentines Day because that fit the same thesis of how he dressed a lot of times. He prided himself on being different from the average joe and standing out from the crowd and took obvious measures to do so.

Posted by Jonathan Edwards | Report as abusive

Suicide is a tragedy for the person, the family and society. It was not caused by psychotropic drugs-oftentimes, when people are depressed, they contemplate suicide – blaming drugs implies that people with depression should not be on this medication. This would be foolish. Of course, medication should be monitored and suicide risk should be assessed by the physician and healthcare providers.

Posted by ruth baker | Report as abusive

Projecting a little there are we Bob? Where are psychiatric drugs or even psychiatric treatment mentioned in the article?

Oh wait, maybe you’re a scientologist, that would explain your immediate jump to blame psychiatry for this tragic situation.

“People don’t commit suicide because they want to die … they commit suicide because they don’t think the pain will ever go away.”

Posted by RWS | Report as abusive

Bob’s comment could have been written part’n'parcel by Scientology, the movement founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. Indeed, Tom Cruise (confirmed member) said almost the exact same thing when he publicly blasted Brooke Shields over taking prescribed anti-depression meds.

The fact is that suicide is almost never caused by one single issue; everybody has their own reasons and it’s one of the most selfish acts anyone could do. What’s strange is that while we abhor the practice in Judeo-Christian societies, it’s still more socially acceptable in Japan.

I think the question everyone should be asking is why/was there something hidden/was there fraud/what is in store? If the suicide is any indication of what the future holds, walking along Wall street…on the sidewalk…might not be a terribly good idea in he near future.

I think we’re all in serious trouble.

-Rastus

Posted by Rastus Riley | Report as abusive

you’re both wrong. People commit suicide because they’ve lost hope, life is bad and it will only get worse with no hope left of it getting better – rarely is it so easy as to point to a pill, or a single event, or “health issues” as a defined cause.

It is improper to say anti-depressants….are known to cause suicide. If this were a true statement, suicide would never have occurred prior to introduction of the drugs. I think what you’re trying to say is that certain pharmaceuticals may increase the risk of suicide. To say X is the cause of B is to disregard the most basic of scientific principals – we might as well blame the flying spaghetti monster.

Posted by Marko Maycobian | Report as abusive

All of these guys are dirty. No matter how anyone spins this it will not change the fact that there is usually something seriously disturbing behind any kind of suicide. In this case, suicide or foul play does not change the fact that this stinks. All of these guys are dirty so this is not surprising or even news. It would be news if they actually paid back all the money they have pocketed in every shady deal. What was Kellerman troubled with? Why did he not make a donation to the Cancer Society or something? This is not news; I do not need nor wish to read or hear about this story.

Posted by Johnny | Report as abusive

“…anti-depressants or other psychotropic drugs which are known to cause suicide.” — Bob Johnson

Psychotropic drugs approved for medical use, which have benefitted millions of people worldwide, do not cause suicides!

Your Medical Professional will tell you about them who they have helped beyond measure, and will inform you that certain people who have suicidal propensities also have comitted suicide whilst receiving this and a myriad of other legitimate medicines — as well as those who have received no medicine at all!

I am one such person, whose life was made livable again because of a combination “cocktail” of Prozac (SSRI) and Wellbutrin (Adreneurgic) — from a “cardboard” existence and dangerous chronic alcoholism, since 1995 I have enjoyed vastly improved quality of life because of these so-called psychotropic medicines or “drugs”. For over a decade I have not relapsed into alcoholism’s dizzying downward spirals & crashes — this, it must be underscored, because we worked long and hard at developing the will, with the medicines but assisting (no medicine will remove addiction by itself — and I suggest “Rational Recovery” (dot-com) for free-of-monetary-cost help.

Anti-depressants do work differently in each individual, and it was necessary to tell my physicians that Paxil, Zoloft, and Effexor did not help, and were not well-tolerated, prior to finding Prozac with Wellbutrin. Changes in the body’s chemical balance, due to sleep deprivation, poor diet, or medicines do influence mental attitude, and one’s mental attitude plays a major part in propensity to suicide. As the author above said: Being mad at regulators does not cause suicide, and I add, nor to Anti-Depressants, but rather lang seated mental health issues are precipitave of self-inflicted personal tragedy.

Posted by Brooks A. Batson | Report as abusive

Very strange. Am a bit surprised that any type of foul play has been ruled out so soon. In reading the details about this case, I am wondering if and when they will consider investigating this from a different perspective.

I don’t know much about anti-depressants but wouldn’t think that a suicide would happen so suddenly, under the influence of these drugs. Seems that there would have been a warning or some sort of psychological/emotional red flags.

Hopefully this case will be investigated more extensively.

Posted by Mary Larue | Report as abusive

Bob Johnson is quite correct about digging deeper. News reporters and their agencies have been shirking their duties to the public by neglecting to look into stresses, depression, fatigue and drugs that may have relevance.

Some of the most popular drugs prescribed for stress or sleeplessness are the widely used selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These are dangerous because over time they produce permanent changes in the brain that lead to such incurable disorders as tardive dyskinesia. They have also led to thoughts, and even acts, of suicide or killing. These drugs are lucrative, and many physicians and psychiatrists do not understand their dangers, probably because newer ones are advertised as beneficial, while adverse effects are minimized.

Think Sen. Dodd and Barney Frank need to be investigated too…and how about all the money that they pocketed? Maybe he was pressured by these two and more and he just gave up hope!

Posted by Cherieo | Report as abusive

Fact

SSRIs do increase the risk of suicide that’s why they have “black box warnings” on the packaging.

We will find out later what the real cause of this suicide was. It all seems too fishy to me with the investigations and all. The truth always comes out later when the story isn’t in the spotlight anymore.

Posted by Jack Bauwer | Report as abusive

Where was the security firm he hired?

Why would a person hire a security firm to protect him and his family and then kill himself?

His death delayed a bunch of mortgage security sales that were supposed to take place today today.

Suicide…hmmm…I think not. When will we overcome the fear that leads us to lies? Doesnt anyone see the obvious? Was he about to reveal where the money went to? Every day now we see the first symptoms of the out of control greed that corrupted the politicians and corporations and thru them corrupts the world hmmm….no hope

Posted by mate | Report as abusive

How about we dig deeper, and we FULLY investigate the mass fraud that’s been going on for the past 40 years. Let’s have a new Pecora commission as ammo for new, strong regulations. We can solve this banking crisis without bailouts, or new taxes. We must write down the “toxic assets” to zero, and keep banks open thru Federal bankruptcy protection. We will not spend trillions of our future taxes, or devalue our savings and give it to the elites who caused this. New management is needed, new regulations are needed, and a new way of thinking is also needed. Only an investigation with full subpoena powers will get to the bottom of this. Otherwise, we’re just throwing our freedom down the abyss in the largest transfer of wealth to the elites in history.

Posted by nate powell | Report as abusive

Well this is the way I see it. He was under an investigation right? By private as well as the legitimate side of the law, for fraud. Here is what you all are over looking. He hired a private security firm because he felt his life was in danger which indicates that he had a will to live or he would not have hired this agency to protect him and his family, second he received $800,000 bonus so this man wasn’t depressed this man was on top of his world he was a very happy man even his neighbors testified to that. Me as a private investigator I put myself in his shoes first. I’m coming under an investigation because my firm just lost $50 bill dollars and I am the Chief Financial Officer(CFO)which means I am the most important person that can make or break the people involved to this crime in any investigation because I keep the books for this firm their is no money coming or going without my knowledge. So that would put me at the highest level to be assassinated because my I’m the only one who can tell where the money went and who received it so those involved with the crime would want to shut me up! This man was the Bookkeeper and the only one who could explain the Ledgers and if he is dead then they would never be able to locate who received the money. So the bookkeeper dead the 50 billion dollars is gone for ever!

He probably committed suicide because his guilty conscience caught up with him and it was unbearable. Self-centeredness, leading up to incomprehensible levels of materialism and greed, is the neurotic norm. Too bad the majority of these guys don’t just quit their theiving jobs and start a new identity that tries to really help the world, rather than pummel the world economy and then feel sorry for themselves to the point of suicide.

Posted by kat | Report as abusive

This is what Frank Rains and Tim Howard from Fannie Mae – should have done. But they are without honor.

Posted by Bob Hannity | Report as abusive

Should everyone just assume that what was apparent was actual? When there is an apparent suicide of someone who “had played a key role in helping the firm navigate accounting scandals and answer questions from regulators,” then is there not at least the possibility that he really didn’t commit suicide? What if he just knew too much about too many people? I hope there is a good CSI team working on this.

Posted by C D Nicholas | Report as abusive

Suicide is an absolute declaration of atheism. They have no faith in God what so ever. If they have a sliver of faith in God, they would have seen that no matter how bad things get, tomorrow is usually brings a better day. So what if the financial system collapsed because of you? What one man can do, another can do. Financial system collapsed, no big deal, build another one, invent a new one. If these guys were smart enough, motivated enough, educated enough, to climb up to the ranks that they had, they could have reinvented the system with their experience. Everyone trusted them, even God did, and they decided that life is not worth it, just because they want to. Suicide is absolute ego. God takes life, not you, not me, not anyone else.

Posted by Sam, Wisconsin | Report as abusive

How quick some people are to jump to the conclusion that Kellermann was taking anti-depressant drugs which, then, contributed to his suicide. People have been committing suicide for thousands of years before anti-depressants were ever heard of. By the way, Judas Iscariot died by his own hand and I have yet to hear of anyone offering the least bit of rationalization for his act, e.g. “the poor guy must have surely been on prescribed anti-depressants.”

Posted by Van | Report as abusive

Jane that’s very interesting. Where are you getting the information that he hired a security firm to protect his family? Perhaps he feared repercussions from the American public because he’d received a huge bonus 2 weeks back? Or perhaps Cherieo is right and Dodd and Frank need to be investigated. I’ve heard news of the later in a few different posts now. Thank god for the age of the internet, I find more information in the comments sections of these posts than I do the regular news agencies. Keep blogging people, it’s our best defense!

Posted by Karen | Report as abusive

According to all of his colleagues, he was outgoing and didn’t appear to be the type to do that. I wonder if anyone else was in the house at the time of the so called suicide such as his wife and or his daughter? If they were home at the time, that would likely rule out foul play. Having said that, the cfo of such a company would have all the inside info into the accounting practices *(past and present)* of that company. Maybe he knew too much?

Posted by cst | Report as abusive

Think people! We are at WAR and here are the players; China for the goods and labor owed and the Arabs for the oil money owed against the US who wants to pay them back with deflated dollars and they don’t like it! The US tried to pay them back with Toxic AC’s but they balked so now its deflated dollar payback time. Freddie Mac was a major player in this game and the CFO/Kellerman knew where the skeletons were buried. Both sides are suspect. The US for the coverup and one of the debtors for getback/revenge. So, Who Done It?? US or them????

Posted by ginsengjohn | Report as abusive

Suicide indeed! Did JFK, MLK, RFK, commit suicide too? The CIA is everywhere and assassinations are as commonplace in our country as traces of mercury and lead are in our semi-functional brains. Whenever you hear about a suicide of a politically connected madam, a senator on a campaign against the Federal Reserve, a lady out to expose the truth about 9/11, a President that just took the Federal Reserve to task, a labor union leader in Michigan posing a mild threat to the bankers, you must bear in mind that the likeliest hypothesis is murder. Sure, these guys are professionals, and we can’t be sure in any given case, but the evidence is overwhelming in favor of the government-assassination explanation. Most likely (but not certainly), Kellerman knew too much, and was killed by one or all of the bloody SIXTEEN “intelligence” agencies in this land of the free.

Posted by Laticia | Report as abusive

Very suspicious. First off he was cooperating with investigators and I dont think he would go to jail or become bankrupt in the position he was in. Second he left no note and usually people that are going to commit suicide dont make appointments for the following week they withdraw from society. Yes anti depressants could have led to his demise also if head some bi-polar tendencies.
On a larger scale all corporate execs and the current administration are shady as hell, so any CIA op could have easily offed this guy and no one will ever find out.
My prediction is they will rule it as a suicide and all evidence erased, this is standard operating procedure. The whole world is full of 90% shady, ruthless people and this guy got murdered no suicide in my opinion. Justice will never prevail here.

Posted by James | Report as abusive

Garbage is garbage, and must always be composted to make it “environmentally” accepatable. Great things happpen daily in America.

Posted by Leslie miller | Report as abusive

This reminds me of the DC Madam (Deborah Palfrey) case – I remember an interview I heard with her on the Alex Jones show where Alex was warning her that she may be “suicided”. She then stated that under no circumstances would she ever commit suicide and she wanted to get that on the record. Look what then happened with her – she hanged herself … Yeah RIGHT!! Move along now – nothing to see here.

No suicide note – Fishy. Its hard to believe this STORY. Knowing to much can cost you your life! People controlling the economy want to continue controlling!

We the public will never know. Dummy up North America

Posted by Ms. Rock | Report as abusive

This is so stupid, of course, he DID NOT commit suicide, he was SUICIDED…. OBVIOUSLY. There’s a story here we will never know, because there’s larger forces at work here. This guy was a hero, and THEY knew it. He was the real deal all the way. WAKE UP FOLKS!

Posted by Moe | Report as abusive

the question is not if he died by himself or not; in any case the shear result is that nobody will talk anymore (execpt if he is now on witness protection program…)

Posted by tony | Report as abusive

the question is not if he died by himself or not; The shear result is that he will talk no more (except if he is on witness protection program…)

Posted by tony | Report as abusive

Listen, people. Many of you are blaming CIA. I think you are close to the truth, but not exactly. I think, the murder was domne by so-called russian mafia, organized by KGB.
I am blaming KGB because there was exactly similar “suicide” of the chief of Ukrainian police General Yuri Kravchenko, who on March 4, 2005 was found dead in his own garage with TWO BULLETS in his head. Since police could not find any signs of anybody’s presence, they declared General’s death a “suicide”.
People! that old Ukrainian case is EXACTLY THE SAME as this one. Investigators should look for killer from Russian mafia

Posted by olek | Report as abusive

about a month ago a Russian consul `committed` exactly the same `hanging` of himself AT HIS HOME in ODESSA, Ukraine at night in the presence of his family sleeping

The diseased was widely known as a money transferring liaison between Kremlin and pro-Russian extremists in Ukraine

here is a nice English language review of the similar to this case of General Kravchenko “suicide”, I mentioned in my previous post
http://www.mw.ua/1000/1030/54112/
I hope it will be helpful

Posted by Olek | Report as abusive

Hmmm no suicide here me thinks. Big time coverup here. He had only been CFO for a short time BTW..perhaps all the bailout money that was being pilfered and sent off to Israel he knew about ??? He was in line for a nice big bonus, I don’t think he wanted to die, and in front of his family like that>? nah…he was going to spill the beans on the scum.

Posted by Joe | Report as abusive

He knew about the 50 BILLION dollars diverted from Freddie Mac to Israel. He was going to spill the beans. CorpGov will not allow that to happen.

“In God we trust, All others pay cash”.

Posted by Harry Cuntz | Report as abusive

details from the news on a very similar case with russian vice-consul alleged “suicide” in Odessa
http://mignews.com.ua/en/articles/346486 .html
Meanwhile, according to Interfax-Ukraine with reference to an informed source, vice consul of the Russian Federation in Odessa Tsvetkov hanged himself at night on Monday.

According to the Odessa mass-media sources, vice consul of the Consulate General Tsvetkov was a vice consul in charge of culture and contacted with public organizations of consular district, including Odessa, Nikolaev, Kherson and Kirovohrad Regions. Also, according to mass-media, he contacted with Native Land (Rodina) political party and All-Ukrainian public organization United Motherland (Edinoe Otechestvo).
http://en.rian.ru/world/20090330/1208233 77.html
apparently hanged himself in the Russian consulate building in Odessa. The diplomat’s wife and child are reported to have been in an adjoining room when the alleged suicide occurred.

[...] scenes things are much worse than you or I could imagine.  I am told much more from the apparent suicide of a CFO than a whole years worth of make believe SEC documents or press [...]

Uh, don’t you think this is pretty obvious?

He got one look at the Books and knew how “F’d” EVERYONE was and saw no other way out?

May God rest his soul.

But, this is simply a pre-cursor for MANY MANY things to come out/be disclosed with the CORRUPTION with this organization.

MANY OTHERS WILL FALL!!!

Posted by ALL2OBVIOUS | Report as abusive