Hollywood couldn’t have scripted a better story than the case of murdered Australian lawyer Max Green.
A brutal murder with no resolution, an alleged gem theft worth $40 million, a horrifying case of collateral damage and the largest legal fraud in Victorian history – it’s the stuff Leonardo DiCaprio can only dream of.
Green was a tax lawyer in Melbourne when he decided to up the ante and make money fast by embezzling millions from wealthy investors. It is believed Green then laundered the money using millions of dollars worth of sapphires from Cambodia.
He was found dead under mysterious circumstances in a Cambodian hotel in 1998 and there is speculation he may have been murdered by an investor in his Ponzi scheme.
Caught up in Green’s case were an Australia SAS soldier and his wife, who were incorrectly linked to Green’s dodgy sapphire dealings and kidnapped and imprisoned in Laos by authorities.
The Australian couple’s side of the ordeal was particularly jarring – they were subjected to torture and constant fear of death.
“They said that next time they would come in the night and they would torture Kerry in front of me, and if I didn’t sign [a confession] then they would kill me and kill him and torture me and kill me,” the soldier’s wife said of her captors in an episode of Australian Story following her ordeal.
“I said, ‘Of course I’m afraid to die, but how can I sign a lie?’ You know, for all I knew, they were going to kill me anyway.”
Enter former foreign minister Alexander Downer, who was instrumental in bringing the couple home. He has given his blessing to The Bodhi Tree – the film that will tie all the mysterious strings of the case together.
“I called Alexander Downer because at the time everything happened he was foreign minister,” the film’s screenwriter and executive producer Bobby Galinksy says.
“We asked him to be an advisor about the technical things and he said he’d be happy to be on board.”
Along with local producers Mirko and Amanda Grillini, Melbourne-based Galinsky will bring the story of the fallen lawyer and the wronged Australian couple to the silver screen with the help of a big budget and filming locations at home and overseas.
“It’s like Blood Diamond meets Wolf of Wall Street meets Argo,” Galinsky explains.
“It’s really Shakespearean. We think Max just wanted to do one thing one time to outshine his brother [Phil Green of the Babcock & Brown empire] so he decided to steal $40 million from the top end of Collins Street, go off the rails and drag people down with him.”
Mr Downer, along with two prominent QCs, will be on hand to ensure the film gets the story right; ranging from all the action in Laos and Thailand to the mammoth financial court case back in Melbourne.
“I was attracted to the project because of my instrumental role in freeing the Australian couple from the Laotian prison,” Mr Downer told The New Daily.
“Thus it had historical relevance to me.”
But not everyone wants The Bodhi Tree to see the light of day.
“The people who were scammed by Green, some of them have come on board as investors and others have run far away and said ‘you shouldn’t make this film’,” Galinksy explains.
“So, if I get unexpectedly killed in the next few weeks … find out who did it!”
The movie, which begins filming next year, will incorporate budding local talent with major industry names and aims to rival the work of Scorsese.
With an awesome story and financial backing, all that’s left for Galinsky to do is cast the pivotal role.
“I asked Alexander if he’d like to be played by George Clooney and he said ‘Well, I do like Lake Como’.”