During the 1980s, in the aftermath of the costly savings and loan scandal, up to a thousand executives from Wall Street were prosecuted for the roles they played in perpetuating financial fraud on a massive scale. Many were convicted and sent to prison. Cut to the Wall Street of today, as America and much of the world continues to attempt a recovery from the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression, and we witness a very different narrative.
In the wake of a criminal act which cost the economy a conservative estimate of 13 trillion dollars, not a single instigator of this calamity has been brought before a court of law. The intriguingly titled documentary The Veneer of Justice in a Kingdom of Crime examines the reasons why.
The film provides a smart and concisely observed summary of the cause and effect behind the financial meltdown which occurred beginning in 2008, and targets the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs as its main orchestrator. The ethical obscenity represented by this global financial collapse is clear. Eager customers were knowingly sold toxic mortgages by the world's largest financial institutions, who then bet big against their clients' ability to pay. In short, these firms wagered against the economy and the middle class, and reaped major profits for themselves as a result.
In light of such gross manipulation - and the destruction that it's caused throughout the globe - the lack of meaningful punishment for the key players behind the crisis has been nothing short of infuriating. Does "too big to fail" mean "immune from the scrutiny of the law"? The filmmakers seem to think so.
With an impassioned activism, The Veneer of Justice in a Kingdom of Crime sets it glare not only on offenders like Goldman Sachs, but also on the impotence of the Department of Justice. Their failure to successfully investigate and prosecute these heinous crimes points to a major failing in America's legal system. Relying on reams of documents and incriminating testimonies, the film shows how these financial institutions operate by their own laws, avoid regulatory oversight, and remain shielded from criminal indictment.