Two big, macabre stories came out of Wall Street recently: the rash of banker deaths by apparent murder and/or suicide, and speculation that bank CEOs themselves are behind the trend to cash in on the insurance.
It turns out that banks take out life insurance policies on their employees, and those policies pay outdeath benefits to the banks — not the families. In other words, to add to the banks’ other crimes, they appear to also be involved in the “suicides” and deaths of their own, as a way to fatten their bottom line and bonuses.
Should we be surprised by this banker-on-banker death scam? After all, wasn’t this what 9/11 was all about?
A new book by James Rickards, ‘The Death of Money’ (read: ‘Death of Bankers’), opens with a timeline starting three days before the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers and describes them from a first-person account from inside the CIA, which was monitoring trading on airline stocks (specifically ‘put options’), from traders who were profiting from the 9/11 disaster.
Jim Rickards is both a Washington insider and a Wall Street insider. He’s a hedge fund manager and a lawyer who, amongst other roles, advised the government during the collapse of Long Term Capital Management (LTCM), as well as during the release of the hostages during the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1981. If anyone has the inside track on the Wall Street-Washington corridor of corruption, it’s Mr. Rickards. And in his new book, he provides an eyewitness account of 9/11 insider ‘terror trading’ that was missing from the government’s own report. Rickards is an unimpeachable source, and he has done a great service by blowing the whistle on this scandal, at least partially.
I’ve interviewed Jim Rickards on my show ‘Keiser Report’ many times and spent time with him personally comparing notes from our Wall Street days. One topic that often comes up is ‘Drexel.’ We were both working on Wall Street during the collapse of Drexel Burnham Lambert and the Ivan Boesky scandal — a seminal moment in establishing the modern, post-regulatory environment on Wall Street, where virtually anything goes and laws are either ignored, rewritten, or created on the spot to manage and profit from the avalanche of insider trading, market manipulation, back room dealing, larceny, forgery, extortion, and other crimes that are the hallmarks of American finance today. When talking about finance scandals, all roads lead back to Drexel and it provides common ground to start a conversation amongst Wall Street veterans.
Both Rickards and I agree that judging by the price action and volume in the options market ahead of the 9/11 attacks, it was clear we were witnessing insider trading. I was one of the biggest producing option brokers when I worked on Wall Street, keep in mind, so I am very familiar with that market. The put options before the disaster were trading like you would expect them to do after a disaster, not before. It was very obvious that advanced knowledge of the attacks was circulating amongst traders. The options market was in fact screaming insider trading, and brokers and bankers were talking about it in the days leading up to the attacks.
Rickards’ information timeline in his book almost exactly mirrors the stories I was hearing at the time, when talking to brokers who had heard of, and in some cases were trading, based on this rumor of an impending airline disaster.
Rickards quotes Buzzy Krongard in his book, deputy chairman of the CIA, who was also the former head of Alex Brown — a firm that factors significantly in the story. I used to work for Buzzy at Alex Brown and I still keep in touch with my former colleagues, some of whom were ‘buzzing’ about the action in airline puts. Additionally, a company I started in Los Angeles, a dot-com, had been sold to a Wall Street broker just a few months before the attacks and the company had relocated their acquisition to the top floor of the World Trade Center. I was in touch with employees who were also ‘buzzing’ about the put option frenzy in airline stocks, and they cited Alex Brown as the source of the rumors. (They were ironically speculating on their own demise, as we were to find out later).
Coyly, Rickards wants us to believe that the original ‘terror traders’ — the original airline put option buyers — started buying put options somewhere other than Washington DC or Wall Street. Without much by way of explanation, he suggests that there is no way of knowing for sure where these trades originated, who did the trades, or how to track them. This of course is wrong. All trades are cleared via the OCC (Option Clearing Corporation) and are routed in ways that leave a paper trail that is easily examined and reconstructed. Why is Rickards evasive on these points? Take a close look again at his resume; he is not going to point the finger at the CIA even though there is overwhelming evidence to suggest the trades originated there. So be it. We can read between the lines. To highlight just one obvious point missing in his narrative: millions of dollars worth of profits from 9/11 insider trading still sit uncollected in an Alex Brown account (now owned by Deutsche Bank) in Baltimore, just down the road from the CIA’s HQ at Langley.
Rickards claims these trades originated “by unknown traders working overseas somewhere,” and this is clearly a dodge. But let’s focus on the fact that Rickards at least has repudiated the government’s claim that there was no insider trading at all. For this I take my hat off to him.
For some, the 9/11 story has faded into history and they consider it not terribly interesting anymore, but I think it’s important to keep in mind the ruthlessness of bankers on Wall Street today who are now apparently killing each other for the insurance money and who, we can now say with some certainty, were trading options to cash in on their own deaths on 9/11. This is the Wall Street culture that is tearing America apart. This is the Wall Street disease that is undermining America’s ability to control events around the world.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RINF or RT.