Abacus: Small Enough to Jail tells the saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud, the indictment and trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves — and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community.
I found this PBS documentary enraging and fascinating. I already knew that the big banks were “too big to fail,” i.e. our financial system could not afford for them to fail. Thus none of of the powerful people were ever prosecuted. But the New York DA decided to make an example of a very small bank in the Chinese community. And, it turns out that some of the ‘evidence’ against them was simply differences in expectations and conventions that were, to the average New Yorker, unusual, and therefore suspect.
The DA discovered that this community would not just roll over.