Long before Enron, there was Carrian group. The scandal rocked Asia, particularly Hong Kong and Malaysia. It’s a story of bank fraud, murder, and suicide. 108 Media is bringing the story to life in the limited series Joker’s Downfall.
108 Media is a cross-cultural film distribution and development agency. They seek to change what the world is watching and inspire new ideas and conversations. Other 108 media productions include Eerie, Rakshashi, and The Art of Charlie Chan.
Carrian Group was founded in 1977 by George Tan Soon-gin. The company was in several industries, including pesticides and tourism. However, it’s infamous for its involvement in real estate. This is the industry that led to its success, and its downfall.
In 1980, it purchased Gammon House for HK$998 million. This large office building would eventually be known as the Bank of America Tower. A few months later, they sold it for HK$1.68 billion. This put them on the radar of the property and financial markets.
Chung Cheng Man was a partner of the Carrian Group. He left in 1982 when he discovered that the company had accumulated massive debt. George Tan gave Chung a generous severance package, which is believed to be a bribe to keep Tan’s improprieties a secret.
Chung’s departure and an economic downturn put Carrian in dangerous financial straits, and the house of cards began to fall.
Tan was arrested in 1983 on several charges. These included making false statements and living in Hong Kong for many years after his visa had expired.
Mak Foon Than was put on trial for the murder of Bank Bumiputera Malaysia Berhad auditor Jalil Ibrahim. Mak claimed that Tan had ordered the murder after Ibrahim blocked a loan that the Carrian group desperately needed to stay afloat. Tan was acquitted of fraud charges in 1987. However, he served 3 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy in 1996. Tan had obtained US$238 million in secret loans from Bank Bumiputera Malaysia Berhad.
The Joker’s Downfall movie was inspired by the autobiography of the same name. The book was written by Ian Robinson, one of the investigators that brought down Carrian group.
Robinson gives a vivid insider account of the effort to bring down Carrian, which was the 7th largest corporation in Hong Kong at the time.
The 108 Media production brings together Robinson’s perspective along with Tan’s. It creates an engrossing picture of the experience from both sides of the law. It’s set to be a limited series of 8 60 minute episodes.