Friday, 13 July 2012

Top 8 Documentaries on Financial Crime and Fraud

Finance has received a bad reputation through the financial crisis, and while not all that went on around the crisis was outright fraudulent, there have been through history some notable episodes. Be it from incompetence, poor governance, or deviousness; through history several figures have achieved noteriety for their sometimes spectacular misdeeds. This article lists the top 8 documentaries on financial crime and fraud. While these cases are extremely interesting and appalling, they are also very informative in terms of equipping yourself to notice some of the warning signs.

1. The Madoff Affair
This one takes the number one spot due to the scale of the fraud and the temerity of the perpetrator. Indeed Madoff has become the word to describe ponzi schemes and investment scams. Madoff was ultimately responsible for losing billions and billions of dollars in a phony investment scheme that suckered in famous people, other financial institutions, and many individual investors. Watch and learn!

2. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
This list would be incomplete without this one. In fact this documentary has become a key tool for classes that teach on corporate governance. What you had with Enron was a complete failure of corporate governance, where greed took over and rogue executives ran wild, serving their own selfish interests and dooming a company that employed thousands of people and was invested in by thousands.

3. Bigger Than Enron
Who was bigger than Enron? The auditors - the guys who should have picked up on the games they were playing over at Enron, but instead chose to cover up and hide the fraud. This lead to the demise of a once highly esteemed, 89 year old major accounting firm. A good case study on ethics and corporate responsibility.

4. Masterminds - Crazy Eddie
Remember Crazy Eddie? Eddie Antar cooked the books, faked inventory and sales, committed insurance fraud, and stock manipulation. The company's financials were doctored to present a booming profitable business, and of course, when the company listed on the stock exchange in an IPO, Antar got rich,while investors were duped into buying a shoddy company. Here's how he did it.

5. American Greed - Hedge Fund Manager
Here's another version of Madoff - this is on a smaller, but by no means trivial scale. Samuel Israel set out to start a hedge fund, he started with the best of intentions, but one mistake lead to another. In the end he was dipping into client funds, making stupid investments, and ultimately falling for a scam himself as he tried desperately to make the money back. Warning: check your investment manager very carefully!

6. 25 Million Pounds
Ever heard of Barings Bank? Or a guy called Nick Leeson? Or have you seen the movie "Rogue Trader"? Basically this is a case where a young up and comer rose to management, started trading on the bank's book, initially making large profits, before losing billions, and hiding it through his having control over back office functions. This is a lesson on why you need good controls and processes!

7. Frontline - Black Money
This PBS documentary investigates the influence of money in politics. Remember the saying "money is power"? Well here's how it works. Corruption, graft, blackmail, bribes, and other shady dealings dilute the proper functioning of democracy and add costs and inefficiency to doing business. This is financial crime on a larger scale.

8. Tricks of the Trade: Outsmarting Investment Fraud
The final documentary focuses more on how you can avoid investment fraud. This is a great documentary to cap the list off with, because it is important to realise what's a scam and what's a good opportunity. You shouldn't be discouraged by fraud and scams, rather you should learn from them so you can make the right financial moves.

Thanks to for finding all these documentaries (and others!)



  1. The american greed series are interesting.... similar to the masterminds series.

  2. I'm amused that most modern company aren't utilizing all the security software this modern world can offer. Some company, even banks, are still so used into using the old process that's why they sometimes stumble on different problems including some minor criminal cases.

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  5. All these Documentaries are really very interested and informative Thanks for your sharing the list with us.

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