The real-life “Wolf of Wall Street” Jordan Belfort got grilled on CNN last night by Piers Morgan last night when the CNN forced him to go through a list of people that had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because of Belfort’s dirty dealings.
Back in the 1990s, Belfort ran a boiler room on Long Island called Stratton Oakmont. Belfort and his stockbrokers pushed penny stocks and defrauded investors.
Belfort served 22 months in federal prison. He was also ordered to pay back $US110 million to his victims.
Belfort wrote a tell-all memoir chronicling his boozy, drug fuelled high-flying Wall Street lifestyle. His book was adapted into a movie directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. (Read Linette Lopez’s movie review here)
There’s been a lot of criticism that the film glorified Belfort instead of focusing on the victims who lost money with Stratton Oakmont.
On CNN last night, Morgan read off names of victims who suffered losses ($250,000 and $US130,000) because of Belfort’s boiler room. Things got a little tense when Morgan started asking Belfort about his victims and whether or not he’s reached out to them personally.
Morgan: “That’s why I’m surprised you would then say that you didn’t think thousands of people lost their money or…”
Belfort: “You said life savings.”
Morgan: “Some of them did, right?”
Belfort: “I don’t know anyone who lost their life savings…Again, I’m not saying that makes it right. Let’s just be accurate here.”
Morgan: “How do you feel about these people losing a lot of money and in some cases having their lives turned upside down?
Belfort: “I think it’s awful. It’s terrible. I think it’s terrible.”
Morgan: “On a human level, have you ever met any of them? Have you ever met one of your victims?”
Belfort: “Ummm, I have not.”
Morgan: “Why not?”
Belfort: “No one has sought me out.”
Morgan: “Why haven’t you sought them out?”
Belfort: “You know, I don’t want to intrude on anyone’s life and.”
Morgan: “Come on! That’s a cop out.”
Belfort: “No, it’s not. I don’t think it’s appropriate to seek my victims out.”
Morgan: “Wouldn’t part of your self-redemption be to actually track some of these people down? We know some of their names. We know what they’re saying about you. If you actually called them up and said, ‘I’d actually like to talk to you. I would like to apologise personally to you for what happened.”
Belfort: [chuckles] “I’ve never really considered it before. But I think a better way for me is the next fifteen years to go around the world and continue to speak and do my stuff. All the money that flows in. I think actions speak louder than words. I think by doing what I’m doing here by turning over 100 per cent of the profits is probably the most genuine thing I can do.”
Belfort said that he feels awful about what happened in the past and that he’s trying actively to right the wrongs.