Three bankers in New York, London and Siena, Italy, died within 17 months of each other in 2013-14 in what authorities deemed a series of unrelated suicides. But in each case, the victim had a connection to a burgeoning global banking scandal, leaving more questions than answers as to the circumstances surrounding their deaths.
The March 6, 2013 death of David Rossi — a 51-year-old communications director at Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest bank — came as the institution teetered on the brink of collapse.
Rossi was found dead in an alleyway beneath his third-floor office window in the 14th-century palazzo that served as the bank’s headquarters.
A devastating security video shows Rossi landing on the pavement on his back, facing the building — an odd position more likely to occur when a body is pushed from a window.
The footage shows the three-story fall didn’t kill Rossi instantly. For almost 20 minutes, the banker lay on the dimly lit cobblestone, occasionally moving an arm and leg.
As he lay dying, two murky figures appear. Two men appear and one walks over to gaze at the banker. He offers no aid or comfort and doesn’t call for help before turning around and calmly walking out of the alley.
About an hour later, a co-worker discovered Rossi’s body. The arms were bruised and he sustained a head wound that, according to the local medical examiner’s report, suggested there may have been a struggle prior to his fall.
But the death was ruled a suicide to the disbelief of Rossi’s widow, Antonella Tognazzi. She was quoted in the Italian press as saying her husband “knew too much.” She staged public demonstrations and hired a lawyer to investigate her husband’s death.
Among the evidence Tognazzi pointed to was the alleged suicide note, in which Rossi referred to her as Toni. He never called her Toni, she said.
Two days prior to his death, according to his wife, Rossi sent a cryptic email to the bank’s CEO Fabrizio Viola. “I want guarantees of not being overwhelmed by this thing,” he wrote. “We would have to do right away, before tomorrow. Can you help me?”
It remains a mystery what specifically Rossi thought could “overwhelm” him just before his death, but many have speculated that he was referring to Monte Paschi’s troubled financial position.
Rossi was a close confidant to former bank president Joseph Mussari, who was the driving force behind Monte Paschi’s 2008 $7.5 billion takeover of Banca Antonveneta. Many banking analysts agreed at the time that Monte Paschi paid too much in the acquisition that Deutsche Bank financed.
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