RESTON, Va., (Reuters) – David Kellermann, acting chief financial officer of troubled U.S. mortgage giant Freddie Mac, was found dead yesterday in his suburban Virginia home after apparently committing suicide, a local police source said.
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.
A police source said Kellermann was found hanging in the basement of his home in Reston, an affluent suburb of Washington, in an apparent suicide.
There was no indication what might have driven him to kill himself.
In March, Freddie Mac said that it was cooperating with the Securities and Exchange Commission in a probe and that employees had been interviewed by investigators.
Freddie Mac said it knew of no link between federal investigations and Kellermann’s death.
“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.
A 16-year veteran of Freddie Mac, Kellermann had played a key role in helping the firm navigate past 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.
“The accounting team has been under incredible pressure for years and there are those you might worry about how they are dealing with the stress, but he was not one of them,” said a former Freddie Mac executive who worked with Kellermann.
There have been several high-profile suicides of business executives around the world in the last six months as the financial crisis took hold.
Police officials in Fairfax County would not confirm Kellermann’s death was a suicide but said police were called at 4:48 a.m. EDT (8:48 GMT) to his home.
“Officers arrived and were directed to the basement of the home where they found David Kellermann dead,” said Eddy Azcarate, a spokesman for Fairfax County Police.
“We are not speculating as to the manner and cause of death. We’re going to wait for the medical examiner to give that information,” he said. “We do not suspect foul play.”
He said police never discuss if any notes are found.
While Freddie Mac has seen its executive ranks churn since accounting improprieties first emerged in 2003 and as it has booked multi-billion dollar losses in recent quarters, those who knew Kellermann spoke of his good character and dedication to the job.
“For many years, we have known David as a person of the utmost ethical standards who was hardworking and knowledgeable in his field,” the Federal Housing Finance Board, Freddie Mac’s chief regulator, said in a statement.