By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 29, 2016
Last Thursday, September 22, 2016, the body of Ann Korkki, a Senior Administrative Assistant in the Wealth Management division of JPMorgan Chase in Denver, Colorado was found with the body of her sister, Robin Korkki, inside their luxury vacation villa at the Maia Resort on Seychelles, an island in the Indian Ocean off the East African coast. Ann Korkki was 37; her sister Robin was 42.
According to the local Seychelles newspaper, there was no sign of violence on the bodies of the women who were on a one week vacation at the resort. The mother and brother of the sisters are currently in Seychelles “pressing U.S. and local officials for details” and making arrangements to bring the sisters back to the U.S. according to a news report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which covered the story because the sisters had attended high school in the area.
This latest unusual death of a JPMorgan Chase employee adds to a stunning roster of bizarre deaths since 2014 – a period which has also seen three felony counts leveled against the firm by the U.S. Justice Department and billions of dollars in fines for wide-ranging charges of wrongdoing.
News reports on the bizarre deaths began with Gabriel Magee, a JPMorgan Vice President who worked in computer infrastructure. Magee, 39, is alleged to have leaped from the rooftop of the 33-story JPMorgan European headquarters building at 25 Bank Street on the evening of January 27, 2014 or the morning of January 28, 2014. London tabloids initially reported that Magee’s jump was observed by “thousands of commuters” and JPMorgan colleagues. But after an official inquest, no eyewitnesses could be produced who had actually seen Magee jump. The coroner ruled that Magee’s death was a suicide.
Three weeks after Magee’s alleged leap from the bank’s skyscraper in London, a JPMorgan employee in Hong Kong, 33-year old Dennis Li (Junjie), is said to have leaped to this death on February 18, 2014 from the 30-story Chater House office building in Hong Kong where JPMorgan occupied the top floors. At the time of the death, Wall Street On Parade received elusive answers from the communication team at JPMorgan Chase as to the young man’s job function at the bank. The South China Morning Post newspaper called Li an “investment banker”; the Standard newspaper in Hong Kong wrote that Li was an accounting major who worked in the finance department at JPMorgan. The China Times wrote that Li was a “Forex trader.” On May 20 of last year, JPMorgan Chase pleaded guilty to a felony count by the U.S. Justice Department for its role in rigging foreign currency exchange trading.
Also in February 2014 came news reports that JPMorgan Executive Director, Ryan Crane, age 37, had died suddenly at his home in Stamford, Connecticut on February 3, 2014. After approximately three months, the Connecticut Medical Examiner released the cause of death, calling it ethanol toxicity/accident.
One month after Crane’s death, on March 12, 2014, yet another alleged building leap occurred, this time in Manhattan by a former JPMorgan analyst, Kenneth Bellando, age 28. Bellando’s body was discovered outside his six-story apartment building on the East Side of Manhattan, by no means a height reliably sufficient to ensure a death outcome.
Bellando was the brother of John Bellando, a JPMorgan employee who had figured in the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations’ report on how JPMorgan had hid losses and lied to regulators in the London Whale derivatives trading scandal that resulted in depositor losses of at least $6.2 billion in the FDIC-insured bank of JPMorgan Chase. The bank paid a total of $1.2 billion in fines to U.S. and U.K. regulators. The Justice Department brought criminal charges against two of its traders involved in the scheme.
Two months after Bellando’s death, on May 7, 2014, Thomas James Schenkman, age 42, died suddenly in Connecticut. Schenkman was Managing Director of Global Infrastructure Engineering for JPMorgan Chase. Schenkman began his technology career with Microsoft, where he worked for 11 years. He had also previously worked at Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns. Schenkman’s tenure at JPMorgan stretched from 2008 to the time of his death. The cause of death was eventually assigned to “atherosclerotic coronary artery disease” by the Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Another death by a JPMorgan worker that went initially unnoticed outside of Wall Street On Parade was that of Jason Alan Salais, age 34. The death of Salais came just six weeks before Magee’s alleged leap from the JPMorgan skyscraper in London. Salais was standing outside a Walgreens drugstore on the evening of December 15, 2013 and died of a sudden heart attack according to a family member. Salais had joined JPMorgan in 2008 with a strong background in computer technology, having previously worked as a Client Software Technician at SunGard and a UNIX Systems Analyst at Logix Communications.
Then there were the unfathomable murder-suicides in New Jersey where two separate JPMorgan workers were said to have murdered their wives and then taken their own lives. According to Bergen County, New Jersey Prosecutor John Molinelli and police reports, 27-year old Michael A. Tabacchi and his wife, Iran Pars Tabacchi (who also went by the name Denise) were discovered dead on Friday evening, February 7, 2015 in their home in Closter, New Jersey. Their infant son was in the home and unharmed. The deaths were ruled a murder-suicide.
The Tabacchi murder-suicide came just seven months after the alleged murder-suicide of the Knott couple. The bodies of Julian Knott and his wife, Alita, ages 45 and 47, respectively, were discovered by police on July 6, 2014 at their home in the Lake Hopatcong section of Jefferson Township, New Jersey. After a two-day investigation, police announced that they believed Julian Knott shot his wife repeatedly and then took his own life with the same gun. The Knotts had three teenage children, two living at home and one in college. Julian Knott was a high-ranking technology executive for JPMorgan Chase.
Ann Korkki, like many of the other JPMorgan workers who died under unusual circumstances, was in her 30s. According to her LinkedIn profile, she had worked for JPMorgan Chase since April 2015 and was “responsible for the needs of a team” of nine in the “Asset Management portion of the Private Bank.”
The other deceased sister, Robin Korkki, had an extensive history as a futures trader in Chicago according to her past registration history at the self-regulatory body, Finra. Her LinkedIn profile says she is the head of foreign exchange (FX) and currency trading at Allston Trading. (Wall Street On Parade has not yet been able to confirm if this information is up-to-date.)
According to the Allston Trading web site, it was founded in 2002 by former floor traders on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and “is owned by its current and former employees, a retired founder, and long-term institutional backers Sequoia Capital and Francisco Partners.”
In 2014, Wall Street On Parade reported on a Federal lawsuit that had been filed in Chicago against Terrence (Terry) Duffy, the Executive Chairman and President of the CME Group, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade and other individuals involved in leadership roles at the CME Group. The lawsuit mentioned by name Allston Trading as one of the firms receiving secret incentive payments from CME Group. The complaint alleged the following:
“Defendants have entered into clandestine incentive/rebate agreements in established and heavily traded contract markets with favored firms such as DRW Trading Group and Allston Trading, paying up to $750,000.00 per month in one of the most heavily traded futures contracts in the world. At no time during the Class Period have Defendants voluntarily revealed to the trading public that these material agreements exist in established markets. Defendants through their lawyers have repeatedly ridiculed the suggestion that clandestine agreements exist.”
The lawsuit also made the bombshell allegation that an estimated 50 percent of all trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange was coming from illegal wash trades.
Wash trades were a practice by the Wall Street pool operators in the 1920s which precipitated the 1929-1932 stock market crash. Wash trades occur when the same beneficial owner is both the buyer and the seller. Wash trades were banned under United States law because they can falsely portray volume and price movement.
The lawsuit complaint alleged that Duffy and his management team were tolerating wash trades “because they comprise by some estimates fifty percent of the Exchange Defendants’ total trading volume and also because HFT [high frequency trading] transactions account for up to thirty percent of the CME Group’s revenue.”
Despite making compelling arguments that the futures markets in Chicago were just as rigged as author Michael Lewis had alleged against the New York stock markets in his book Flash Boys, on December 3 of last year the lawsuit was dismissed on the basis of tortured reasoning by Federal Judge John Robert Blakey. One particularly strange part of the decision read:
“…even if, as plaintiffs allege, the defendants created this two-tiered marketplace, the existence of the marketplace itself is not alleged to have caused price fluctuations, artificiality or losses. It is the HFTs’ trades that cause any manipulation of prices, any artificiality and any losses. As such, plaintiffs have failed to allege that defendants caused any artificial price.”
Of concern to many in Chicago, the lawsuit indicated that confidential witnesses had come forward to provide firsthand knowledge of the matters outlined in the complaint.