Failing Banks, Falling Bankers and the Curious Case of Indira Singh
Her unique experience gives us startling insight into 9/11 and quite possibly into the latest phenomenon, banker “suicides”
On the fateful morning of September 11th, 2001, roughly one hundred corporate security personnel from all over the world and all over the U.S. had gathered for a conference on the 106th floor of the North Tower, World Trade Center. These were the people tasked with protecting data and data systems of major banks and corporations.
Let us pause for a moment and take a very close look at the North Tower event:
According to the Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers produced by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in September 2005:
“At 8:46:30 a.m., five hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 11 (AA 11) with 11 crew and 76 passengers into the north face of WTC 1. The aircraft flew almost straight toward the north tower, banked approximately 25 degrees to the left (i.e. the right wing elevated relative to the left wing) and descended at an angle of about 10 degrees at impact. Moving at about 440 mph, the nose hit the exterior of the tower at the 96th floor. The aircraft cut a gash that was over half the width of the building and extended from the 93rd floor to the 99th floor”.
All but the lowest of these floors were occupied by Marsh & McLennan, a worldwide insurance company, which also occupied the 100th floor. “The fuselage was centered on the 96th floor slab and filled the 95th and 96th floors top to bottom,” the NIST report stated.
So, what exactly was on the 95th and 96th floors of the north tower, which were rented by Marsh & McLennan, Lewis Paul “Jerry” Bremer’s company? Bremer, we should note, was the Bush-appointed proconsul or administrator of occupied Iraq until the end of June 2004. We should also note that during Bremer’s reign there was no metering of the oil that was exported from Iraq. It is also primarily decisions taken by Bremer that are responsible for the misery and chaos that have afflicted Iraq since the U.S.-led occupation began. It should be noted with interest that Bremer was the right-hand man for Henry Kissinger & Associates in the past.
Being on the 106th floor, only six floors above the airliner’s strike zone, none of the security conference attendees were able to escape. Yet, one of the invitees did survive…by being uncharacteristically late.
Indira Singh has no explanation for this, but she over slept that morning. Had she been on time, she would have perished with the others and her tale would never have been told. God or fate had other plans.
Indira was a consultant specializing in Risk Architecture. Large corporations would contract with her to design technical blueprints for their business that included risk management at multiple levels of operation. In the months preceding the conference, she had been working on very complex blueprints for JP Morgan Chase, the eye of our current financial storms. In her words:
“…it’s highly technical but what’s interesting about this is it requires you to understand the business inside out, so it’s not only the technology that you need to know about, but you also need to know the intricacies of banking, and in banking it’s all about ‘risk’. So, it’s about credit risk, it’s about operational risk, it’s about market risk, and so on. …which is why I was pioneering the field of Risk Enterprise Architecture, or Risk Architecture, and why I called myself a Risk Architect, because my point was that unless you really understood risk management, and Enterprise Architecture and merged the field, you really weren’t going to get that synergy between where the business was headed, and what you needed to make sure nothing went wrong in the business, (which was risk management), keep that, and all those rules and goals and ideas in sync with the systems, which are implemented to conduct the business. So, you needed a pretty smart piece of software to think about this to even blueprint all of this, and once you’ve blueprinted it, to keep track of what was going on in the organization, and to make sure that every system was in sync or the results of the business transactions and the bank were in sync with… what should be.”
“I was developing the methodology, how to think about it, that was Part One. Part Two was gaining consensus firm-wide that this was the way, for instance, we were going to look at operational risk management, this was how we were going to look at operational risk management at JPMorganChase, and once everyone had agreed to that, we were going to phase in by developing software that would help implement it. So, it was a multi-phase project. Of course the agreement was done at a very high level, once we had gotten the agreement, we would go out and look at vendors that would help us implement our ideas.
I was developing an architecture that would take a look at all aspects of the business at JPMorganChase.
Right, in real-time. Because the thing about risk… in the financial industry over the past 10 years, you have these huge horror stories, for example Berings, where you had a rogue trader that basically exploited holes in the system and by the time he was caught it was too late, the bank went down, and brought a lot of other businesses and enterprises down. So we wanted to move from a reactive to a proactive way of looking at what was going on, you wait until the horse is bolted too far out of the barn—you really have to take a look at what’s going on, because financial crimes can be so complex, money laundering, it’s not just looking at one transaction it’s looking at a whole pattern or system over time of transactions to see what someone might or might not be up to. And then of course there are the normal errors that occur, innocent errors, careless errors, that sort of thing.
Barings was that infamous trader in Singapore. Really, it was because he was allowed to take positions, that if someone was paying attention, they would have stopped him before he went too far… there is, in banking and financial institutes, a number of transactions… how shall I put this… wherein we are basically forced to look the other way. So, it becomes a matter of not knowing… not knowing what’s what. For instance, in my work in credit risk, I could not get compliance in certain offices, to comply with the informational blueprint, no matter who I went to. There was just never going to be compliance. So I just wrote up what I saw, and I figured as long as I could write, and the regulators could read, that was it. I wasn’t gonna go any further than that as a senior consultant, I had done my job. I could bang my head against the wall maybe a little bit more than others, but I know that there were other analysts, other risk managers who for instance with some of the vehicles that were used, were created to support the activities of Enron, they were highly incensed and they left the firm… that’s a whole other show!”
During the course of mapping out the blue print for JP Morgan Chase, Indira saw that she could use off the shelf software for a portion of the project, but she was also going to need very specialized software that was not commercially available. She needed something more customized, so she queried other Risk Management professionals. She traveled to Washington D.C to consult with industry gurus specializing in Enterprise Architecture. She was surprised to hear the same recommendation made over and over….”talk to P Tech”, they told her, “but don’t let them out of your sight”.
P Tech, she learned, was headquartered just outside of Boston in the town of Quincy, Massachusetts. P Tech had recently inked a distribution deal with IBM and sported an astonishing list of very elite clients. In fact, P Tech’s clients included some of the most sensitive organizations and agencies in the United States government, including the U.S. Armed Forces, Congress, The Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Justice, The FBI, Customs, The FAA, The IRS, The Secret Service, the White House and NATO!
Indira took the next step and arranged a meeting with P Tech . She expected them to come to the meeting prepared to demonstrate their software and its capabilities. But that’s not quite what happened. They had something else in mind, something really, really nefarious. Oh, I think that I forgot to mention, P Tech was owned by Saudis. Let us keep in mind that most, if not all, of the purported 9/11 hijackers held Saudi passports.
Part 2 in the works? You bet…