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Suicide eyed in death of CFO

DAVID Kellermann, the acting chief financial officer of money-losing US mortgage giant Freddie Mac was found dead at his home yesterday morning in what police said was an apparent suicide.

The Fairfax County police responded to an emergency call at the suburban Virginia home Kellermann shared with his wife. The police would not release the cause of death or say if a suicide note was found.

Paul Unger, who lives across the street from the Kellermanns, called them a "solid, salt-of-the-earth kind of family" that hosted the neighborhood's Halloween party. "He was just a nice guy ... You cannot imagine what kind of pressures he must have been under."

Kellermann, 41, worked for Freddie Mac for the past 16 years and was named acting chief financial officer last September when the US government seized control of the company to keep it from failing. Freddie Mac lost more than US$50 billion last year, and the government pumped in US$45 billion to keep the company afloat.

Kellermann's death is the latest in a string of blows to Freddie Mac, which owns or guarantees about 13 million mortgages and is the No. 2 mortgage finance company after sibling Fannie Mae.

The company has been criticized for financing risky mortgage loans that fueled the real estate bubble, and its first government-appointed chief executive officer, David Moffett, resigned last month after six months on the job.

News of Kellermann's death came as a shock to employees of the McLean, Virginia-based company, with those who knew Kellermann tearing up yesterday morning and a quiet mood prevailing.

Sharon McHale, a Freddie Mac spokeswoman, said senior executives at the company heard the news on local radio before going to work. "It's just so awful," she said.


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