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The Financial Express

'The Monster of Wall Street' is a detailed look at the biggest money-laundering scheme ever

| Updated: January 20, 2023 18:00:36


'The Monster of Wall Street' is a detailed look at the biggest money-laundering scheme ever

The Monster of Wall Street is a Netflix docuseries that delves into the criminal mind behind Bernard Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme. 

Joe Berlinger's four-part miniseries dives deep into the history of the Ponzi scheme that ultimately led to Madoff's imprisonment during the 2008 financial crisis and the loss of several billion dollars on the part of investors of all dimensions.

Madoff and his wife Ruth are shown in the pilot episode working together to trade over-the-counter stocks in the early 1960s. This also includes the infancy of his career as an investment advisor, which he used as a supplementary source of income. Before this, he had experienced a major loss and had to borrow money from his wife's father to pay back investors; he decided he'd rather lie than give up.

Despite this, his consulting firm expanded alongside his reputable stock trading firm, largely thanks to the efforts of two accountants. 

He moved his business from over-the-counter trading to that of a 'market maker,' in which his firm would act as an intermediary in stock transactions and eventually help found the Nasdaq stock index.

Despite his success on Wall Street, where he never actually put his own money to work and instead used money from new investors to pay off old ones, Madoff decided to keep running his consulting business. 

The SEC had arrested the accountants who had introduced him to the company in 1992, but he could still defraud the investors who dealt directly with him of the money needed to repay them. As he had previously provided false investment statements to the SEC, their investigation into him was eventually concluded.

The docuseries provides a detailed and accurate account of Madoff's professional life. Since the story is so interesting, there's never a dull moment, and the pace never slows down. Whistleblowers, employees, authorities, and victims of Madoff's business scams are all interviewed throughout the four episodes.

The writers of the story assume that their audience has no prior knowledge of the financial sector. It also explains everything while disseminating data, making it easy for the audience to understand each step. 

The witnesses' testimony and interpretations are strategically placed to create a coherent and convincing story.

The miniseries also features several victims' personal accounts to emphasise the situation's gravity. The focus is not entirely on the wrongdoing and the perpetrators because the people are also given a voice.

Intriguingly, the documentary also includes never-before-seen footage of Madoff himself and dramatic reenactments to expose the full scope of his criminal activities. However, one of the documentary's flaws is that it tends to overdramatise real-life events. 

Therefore, these recreations have an awkwardly humorous effect. Some scenes feel like they were lifted straight out of The Wolf of Wall Street and dropped into this story.

Despite the unsettling dramatisations, there is a wealth of information about Madoff's character, the structure of his Ponzi scheme, and the motivations of those who invested in it. 

The documentary Madoff: Monster of Wall Street is fascinating and instructive. 

It's fascinating to see the full path taken by the infamous financial serial killer, and it's informative to see the full scope of the damage that Ponzi schemes can do laid bare.

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