"Exposing Financial Fraud"
What You Need To Know:
CHASING MADOFF is nearly a docudrama with numerous scenes reenacting the drama of Harry’s efforts to expose Madoff. The movie bravely supports the moral grounds on which Harry Markopolos stood and commends him for being willing to serve his country, even when only a few colleagues stood with him. However, some of the sensationalist content, including Harry’s neurotic obsession with his own personal safety, detracts from the central message. MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for CHASING MADOFF’S adult storyline and content, which contains brief, but mostly light, foul language and some violent footage, including accounts of two suicides.
(BB, C, CapCap, P, H, L, VV, A, DD, MM) Strong moral worldview, embodied by the whistle-blowing protagonist who refuses to give up short of doing what is morally right, in the name of the greater good, and it is implied that Markopolos’s understanding of ethics and duty is grounded in his Christian faith, as we see him pray in the chapel of his old catholic school, but he never openly discusses his religious convictions, plus strong support of free-market economics, with the emphasis on ridding the system of corruption and freeing smaller investors from predatory big firms, some overt patriotic content includes protagonist is a former service man who openly states he views his financial investigation as an extension of the oath he took to defend his country, several camera shots feature the U.S. flag and archived news footage of SEC hearing depicts representative commending protagonist for doing “your country a great service,” and some light humanist elements such as French financier believes that taking his own life is the “how noble people go out”; seven obscenities (mostly the “h” word) and one profanity; some strong violent references such as blood drips on hand onto paper after man cuts himself (we later learn this alludes to a suicide), protagonist buys rifle and handgun and practices at range, protagonist admits he “was going to go down there and kill [Madoff]” if he threatened his family, fake sound of explosion as protagonist turns on car to illustrate his inner fears, gun hold up and strangling in historical footage featuring Al Capone, and at least two people (a French financier and Madoff’s son) take their own lives; no sex; no nudity; drinking of scotch and martinis on screen; allusions to suicide include the French financier who unwittingly propagated Madoff’s scheme in Europe took painkillers before slitting his wrists; and, immorality, specifically fraud, is the movie’s theme, which focuses on the Madoff Ponzi scheme that requires an ever-increasing flow of victims to pay off the old victims, with historical footage of horse-betting to illustrate the point, and protagonist admits to considering premeditated murder to defend his family.
Harry Markopolos uncovered the greatest fraud in history, but nobody would listen.
In the documentary CHASING MADOFF, which is nearly a docudrama with numerous segments of dramatic reenactment, Jeff Prosserman follows Harry Markopolos’s 10-year quest to shed light on the illegal and unethical practices of imprisoned financier Bernie Madoff. When all is said and done, Markopolos did not directly bring Madoff to justice – the recession did.
Unable to pay off “investors” into his global Ponzi scheme when the U.S. economy crashed, Madoff turned himself in to the authorities. He is currently serving 150 years in a North Carolina prison.
Prosserman’s forte is in building the documentary around the patriotic and moral protagonist, Harry Markopolos. He films engaging, narrative-centered interviews with Harry and his associates, who take viewers into the heart of the action and allow them to relive key moments of their investigation.
No doubt, audiences will be shocked by the lack of response the SEC provided to Harry’s formal reports. “My first submission was in May of 2000, and it basically explained how Bernie Madoff had to be operating a scam,” he says in the movie.
Harry had been managing a hedge fund worth millions of dollars when he was asked to find a way to compete with Madoff’s fund. For Madoff’s returns on investment to be true, he would have to be more successful in placing investments than a baseball player batting a .964 average! Or, so Harry believes.
Had the SEC listened to Harry, millions of Americans and other families worldwide could have been saved from embezzlement.
“It was a very specific complaint. Not once, not twice, not three, but, four, five times to the SEC,” noted Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York). “How many more times would a whistle blower have to bring complaints. . . for them to have investigated the Madoff case?”
The documentary sheds light on the immorality that clouds modern-day Wall Street. It bravely supports the moral grounds on which Harry Markopolos stood, and commends him for being willing to serve his country, even when only a few colleagues stood with him. However, some of the sensationalist content, including Harry’s neurotic obsession with his own personal safety, as well as that of his family (buying/shooting guns, checking family van for bombs, rehearsing family “battle drill”, etc.), detracts from the movie’s important central message of the movie.
MOVIEGUIDE ® advises caution for the adult storyline and content, as well as some violent footage, which includes accounts of two suicides. This is a movie that asks for a return to our country’s foundational vision for a free-market, yet ethical, economy.