MANHATTAN (CN) - Deutsche Bank's involvement in pushing the "virtually 'risk free'" Aravali Fund not only cost two families $13 million, it drove the families' longtime friend and financial adviser to commit suicide out of guilt over the trust the families had place in his firm, says Federal Court action.
The recipient of the letter says his longtime friend and financial adviser, Deutsche Bank employee Russell Smith, suggested the family contact Smith's attorney, "for possible redress."
The Spain family plaintiffs say they lost $3 million; the Duncan Family claims to have lost $10 million. The Spain family claims Deutsche Bank employee Arthur Kreidel, with the late Russell Smith, was primarily responsible for persuading them to throw $3 million into Arivali.
The Duncan family says their friend and longtime investment adviser, Russell Smith, sent them a letter just before he killed himself, suggesting they contact his attorney, "for possible redress."
The defendants are Deutsche Bank Alex Brown, Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., Arthur Kreidel, Mark Young, Aravali Fund LP, and Aravali Partners LLC. Mark Young is or was the president of Aravali Partners.
The families claim Deutsche Bank and its defendant employees persuaded them through misrepresentations to invest $13 million in the "virtually 'risk free'" Aravali Fund, then lost the money. Both families claim that Deutsche's Bank misrepresentations of Aravali were so blatant it caused Smith, both families' longtime financial counselor, to commit suicide in October.
The families claim that as things grew murky, Smith set up a dinner for them with Arivali president Mark Young, during which Young revealed that their investments had lost 60% of their value. The families claim that Young, Kreidel and Smith had never told them that there was a "lock-up period" of a year, during which they could not withdraw any of their money. And they claim that the defendants had told them that the Arivali fund had been "in existence for close to two decades, when it reality it had only been formed the year prior to their investment."
The Duncans say they received this letter from Deutsche Bank employee Russell Smith, after Smith had killed himself:
"Since you are reading this, I have just taken my life. It was necessary because the alternatives were totally unpalatable. I consider you a friend first and a client second. That said, I had a fiduciary relationship with you that charged me with putting your interest first. I can say that I always tried to do that. However, some of the investment recommendations that I chose did not work out the way I had anticipated. I regret that very much. There is one that I may be able to help you recoup. I was told by my firm and Aravali that this strategy was conservative and would deliver excess returns with minimal market risks. I relied on my firm's due diligence and the assertions of Arivali that this was a conservative, income producing strategy. I looked at all the data provided and decided that this was suitable for you. As it turns out, we have had unprecedented financial turmoil in our markets. However, the Arivali strategy (in my opinion) should have been able to survive this turmoil. The fact that it did not goes back to Deutsche Bank and the Fund. I would strongly suggest that you contract my attorney (...) for possible redress. ...
"I love you as a friend and would do anything to help you. Unfortunately, I cannot survive this financially or otherwise by want to do whatever is possible to aid you. Thank you for your friendship and may God bless you and [your wife].
"Your Friend, Russell"
The suicide letter is appended to the lawsuit.