Eric Thompson stars as Derek Turner in The Million Dollar Con Man
“I’ve come from basically the … [bottom end] of the world, New Zealand … there’s only one-way for me to go, that’s up” – Derek Turner.
Through an improbably simple scam involving a phoney hedge fund and the gift of the gab, New Zealand’s biggest conman Derek Turner (Erik Thomson – All Saints, The Alice) took the life savings of scores of people and lived a life of luxury around the world. On Thursday, June 5th at 8:30pm on TV3, his story is told in the docu-drama The Million Dollar Con Man.
Turner’s outlandish career began by overthrowing a company he wasn’t even an investor in and stretched to pitching to rebuild the World Trade Centre. His undoing came in February 2006 when he was convicted in a New York court of defrauding over 60 investors of $90 million. Now, as he sits back in his cell in the Nassau County Correctional Centre, still following the financial markets from a transistor radio, still claiming he will return to trading, Derek Turner can at least lay claim to one title – he is undoubtedly the “King of Con” from down under.
Born and raised in Taranaki, Turner first got into trouble after moving from Auckland to Sydney, where in 2000 the Australian Securities and Investments Commission found him guilty of trading without a licence, shut down his operation and ordered him to repay his investors.
Instead, Turner took their money and set up home in the tax haven of the Bahamas where he started up a new hedge fund, Turning International, which collected millions from investors in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, the UK and the US.
However, the good times would not last forever. Turner’s downfall eventually came from the most unlikely of people, an ex-con turned preacher by the name of Barry Minkow (played by Mark Fergusson).
The Million Dollar Con Man is interspersed with interviews from the people intimately involved in the case, from victims who lost millions, to FBI Agents, and even Turner’s un-doer, Minkow himself.
The Million Dollar Con Man is a truly remarkable story of one man’s determination to live a life beyond his means, filled with luxury and prestige. Derek Turner’s story is told on Thursday, June 5th at 8:30pm on 3.