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The Death of Neil Coulbeck


John Simkin
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Neil Coulbeck was found dead on wasteland yesterday. Initial reports state that he committed suicide. It has been pointed out that he has been interviewed by the FBI concerning the UK Enron case. Lawyers for the three men (David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby) being extradited today claim that he probably committed suicide because of being put under undue pressure by the FBI investigators. The strange thing about this story is that Coulbeck was not under police investigation. He was interviewed because he was a witness to this alleged fraud. The idea that Coulbeck committed suicide because he feared prosecution is false. It makes more sense that he was murdered in order to stop him testifying against the people involved in the Enron scandal.

Coulbeck’s body was found on the route where he went jogging. If someone has evidence about a major scandal, I would recommend that they do not go jogging in quiet areas. After all, look what happened to Mary Pinchot Meyer.

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It has been noted that there's a more recent death in the Enron scandal, so I thought the following might be of interest. Forum members have previously discussed the veracity of "suicides" who shot themselves in the head more than once [Gary Webb, for example], but I cannot recall any discussion of those who choose to kill themselves by slitting their own throats. This, from the Times Online, at:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2269673,00.html

Dead executive 'not a suspect'

By Steve Bird

A FORMER banking executive who was due to give evidence at the trial of the NatWest Three killed himself by cutting his throat, police sources said.

Last night officers were searching a recycling centre in Chigwell, Essex, close to Neil Coulbeck’s home, to see if he had disposed of any documents linked to the Enron fraud investigation. Mr Coulbeck’s body was found on Tuesday in parkland. The 53-year-old former Royal Bank of Scotland executive was identified yesterday after a post-mortem examination. Police were still awaiting the result of toxicology tests.

Officers believe that Mr Coulbeck, a father of two, committed suicide. He went missing five days before his body was found. It is understood that he had made an earlier attempt on his life. Supporters of David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby have claimed that Mr Coulbeck was put under immense pressure when questioned by FBI investigators. But the FBI said that Mr Coulbeck had been considered a witness, not a suspect.

He was interviewed last month in his solicitor’s office as part of the Enron investigation.

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It has been noted that there's a more recent death in the Enron scandal, so I thought the following might be of interest. Forum members have previously discussed the veracity of "suicides" who shot themselves in the head more than once [Gary Webb, for example], but I cannot recall any discussion of those who choose to kill themselves by slitting their own throats. This, from the Times Online, at:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2269673,00.html

Dead executive 'not a suspect'

By Steve Bird

A FORMER banking executive who was due to give evidence at the trial of the NatWest Three killed himself by cutting his throat, police sources said.

Last night officers were searching a recycling centre in Chigwell, Essex, close to Neil Coulbeck’s home, to see if he had disposed of any documents linked to the Enron fraud investigation. Mr Coulbeck’s body was found on Tuesday in parkland. The 53-year-old former Royal Bank of Scotland executive was identified yesterday after a post-mortem examination. Police were still awaiting the result of toxicology tests.

Officers believe that Mr Coulbeck, a father of two, committed suicide. He went missing five days before his body was found. It is understood that he had made an earlier attempt on his life. Supporters of David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby have claimed that Mr Coulbeck was put under immense pressure when questioned by FBI investigators. But the FBI said that Mr Coulbeck had been considered a witness, not a suspect.

He was interviewed last month in his solicitor’s office as part of the Enron investigation.

A very different account appeared in today's Sun:

http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2006320493,00.html

By MIKE SULLIVAN

Crime Editor

SUICIDE banker Neil Coulbeck was filmed ditching files believed to be linked to the NatWest fraud trial.

CCTV footage from a tip at Woodford, East London, showed him dumping mystery sacks, cops said. Mr Coulbeck, 53, then vanished eight days ago and was found hanged on Tuesday.

Yesterday cops — alerted by a tip-off from a witness — scoured the refuse centre as fraud suspects, the NatWest Three, were extradited to the US.

A police source said: “We believe he may have dumped sacks of documents which could be related to his financial dealings.

“We are sifting the rubbish in the hope of finding the material.”

The body of the dad of two was found under a tree where he hanged himself in a park close to his Woodford Green home.

Mr Coulbeck was a key witness in the £11million fraud case and had been interviewed “aggressively” at length by agents from the FBI.

Yesterday ex-NatWest men Giles Darby, David Bermingham and Gary Mulgrew were flown to Houston, Texas, by US marshals.

They are accused of conspiring with bosses of failed American energy giant Enron to sell off one of their companies for less than it was worth in 2000.

The trio then left the bank and just months later bought a stake in the company they had sold, selling it on for a higher price and splitting up profits of £11million.

Mr Coulbeck is said to have signed off documents from the sale as NatWest’s chief operational officer in the US.

After the bank’s takeover by the Royal Bank of Scotland in 2001, he was head of group treasury before he left three years later.

He was one of four people known to have been quizzed by the FBI investigating the alleged fraud.

Mr Coulbeck left a suicide note which was recovered by cops.

This is what yesterday's Observer had to say about the case:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/enron/story/0,,1821664,00.html

It was the repellent smell that first alerted a dog walker in an Essex park last Tuesday morning. Powerful to the point of overpowering, it presaged death. Neil Coulbeck's body was discovered underneath a tree from which he had apparently hanged himself. The park, near Woodford Green, was a place the former NatWest banker knew well; the father of two would jog there regularly, according to neighbours.

Up until the autumn of 2001 it had been Coulbeck's job to focus on NatWest's American balance sheet. 'He was on the credit side,' says someone who knew him. 'It was his job to approve things. It was a very senior role.' Coulbeck had been reported missing by his wife, Susan, five days before his body was discovered. It is understood he left a suicide note and had made a previous attempt on his life.

Shortly before he apparently hanged himself, Coulbeck, who was 53 and retired from banking in 2004, was captured on CCTV dumping rubbish sacks at a tip in east London. There is speculation the bags contained documents relating to the Enron affair, which friends have suggested rested heavy on his mind although these claims have not been confirmed.

Given the language of this report, it would seem the police are leaking information about their investigation. Clearly, they have yet to release details of how he actually died. The information about the rubbish sacks is obviously an attempt to give the impression he committed suicide. It seems that it was pure speculation that the sacks contained Enron files.

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