Gustavo Arnal, chief financial officer of Bed Bath & Beyond (BBB), reportedly jumped to death on Friday, September 2, from a skyscraper in New York where he lived. Arnal, a seasoned financial executive who had served as chief financial officer at BBB since May 2020, was among a number of recently named defendants in a class action lawsuit alleging a “pump-and-dump” stock fraud scheme, the Daily Mail first reported. According to WSJ.com, Arnal lived in the 57-story skyscraper, which earned it the nickname “Jenga Building” due to its distinctive architecture.
BBB has faced a myriad of financial difficulties over the past few years, recently announcing that it would be closing 20% of its stores, reducing its workforce and looking for ways to recapitalize. Arnal had been brought in amid the pandemic in 2020 to help accelerate the company’s recovery, and BBB had announced in August that it had secured new funding to boost liquidity.
However, a class action lawsuit was filed Aug. 23 alleging that BBB, Arnal, Chewy.com founder Ryan Cohen, and others artificially inflated the company’s stock price in order to sell stocks. shares at a higher price before it fell, the Daily Courier reported. BBB shareholders allege in the lawsuit that they lost approximately $1.2 billion as a result of the pump-and-dump program.
BBB, as lead defendant, was accused of making a “materially false and misleading statement” in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on August 18, stating that part of the recapitalization would be with RC Ventures , a company also named as defendant. The lawsuit also claimed that JP Morgan Securities aided and abetted the fraud by laundering “more than $110 million in insider trading proceeds.”
Arnal, who police say died in a suicide jump at 12:20 a.m. at the Jenga building, had unloaded a position of 55,013 BBB shares on August 16, worth more than $1 million, according to the Reuters calculations. Following the disclosure of Cohen and Arnal’s stock sales, BBB shares fell from a “record high of $30” to $8.78, according to the suit.
BBB released a statement via President Harriet Edelman, saying, “Gustavo will be remembered by everyone he worked with for his leadership, talent and stewardship of our business.” JP Morgan and RC Ventures declined to comment to media.
Arnal spent 20 years in financial roles at Procter & Gamble. Avon named him chief financial officer in December 2018 as the beauty company embarked on a new long-term growth strategy.
Arnal had a master’s degree in finance from the Universidad Metropolitana in Venezuela.