Abacus: Small Enough to Jail


Arts and Culture

Director: Steve James / Cast: Thomas Sung, Vera Sung, Cyrus Vance Jr./ Documentary/ 88 mins/ English

Evening Screening and Skype Meeting
Registration 6:45pm
Screening 7:00pm
Skype Meeting 
Close: 9:00pm

In 2008, the financial crash left 5.5 million Americans out of jobs amid slow economic growth, as the U.S. banking system faced near collapse. Many Wall Street banks received multi-billion dollar bailouts despite engaging in many financial irregularities amid decades of light regulation.

A play on the infamous line “too big to fail,” Abacus: Small Enough to Jail is a story of the Chinese-American Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. of mortgage fraud, Abacus became the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges post-2008 Financial Crisis. Its indictment and subsequent five-year legal battle with the state government forces the Sung family to defend their name and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community. Abacus: Small Enough to Jail is an intimate portrait of a family and a community grappling with questions of cultural assimilation and ethics amid a tumultuous period in modern history.

Thomas Sung founded Abacus Federal Savings Bank in 1984 and served as its CEO for over 20 years. Mr. Sung worked as an associate at Finley and Gore before owning his own legal practice in the Chinese community. He has participated in many community professional organizations over the years including the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the New York Chinese American Bankers Association and China Trade Center among others. Sung has been awarded numerous recognitions and awards including the 2001 Ellis Island Medal of Honor; Brooklyn Law School 1997 Alumnus of the Year. In 2003, he was honored with the Outstanding Overseas Chinese Entrepreneur and was recognized in China as one of Ten Outstanding Chinese Economists in 2009. Thomas Sung relinquished his roles as president and CEO of Abacus bank to his daughter Jill but continues to serve as Chairman of the Board. 

Vera Sung, the sister of Jill, Heather, and Chanterelle Sung, is a director on the board of Abacus Federal Savings Bank and a former prosecutor at the Kings County District Attorney's Office from 1990 to 1993. In 1993, she joined her father Thomas Sung's law practice which focuses on real estate transactions. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and Boston College Law School. 


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Event Details

Thu 16 Nov 2017
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Asia Society Hong Kong Center, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty

Buy Tickets
$100 for Asia Society Members; $150 for Non-members
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