“Billion Dollar Whale ” by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope

Billion Dollar Whale is an unbelievable story about businessman turned international financier Low Taek Jho or the Asian Gatsby. He was the mastermind at the centre of the extraordinary Malaysian IMDB financial scandal. The 1MDB fund was designed to boost Malaysia’s economy through strategic investments. Instead it turned into a fantastic embezzlement story. The stories told in this book of renting airport hangars to throw extravagant parties with celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Pharrell Williams, Swizz Beatz, Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Hosting parties at presidential suites of hotels where Hollywood stars troop in and out to discuss film productions. The manner in which a country was swindled of billions of dollars is astounding. For it to happen because Low Taek Jho managed to convince people around him of his lies is truly mind boggling. This is the information age when much of the information can be verified, so to accept anything that this man said or offered as the truth is quite presposterous. Nevertheless Tom Wright and Bradley Hope interviewed many, many people for this book. It is an attempt at investigating the story.

Today the superyacht linked to this scandal has been sold for $126m which is far less than the original $250m it was bought for!

For now investigation has begun into this financial scandal. Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Najib Razak has gone on trial for his role. He faces seven charges in the first of several criminal cases accusing him of pocketing $681m (£522m) from the sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. ( BBC News, 3 April 2019 “Najib 1MDB trial: Malaysia ex-PM faces court in global financial scandal“) Meanwhile Jho Low remains a fugitive and has been charged in absentia in Malaysia. He is probably in China now. According to the authors this book is really an indictement of the failure of Wall Street, of global finance to self-regulate.

Asia’s Great Gatsby: New book chronicles Malaysia’s fugitive financier from CNBC.

One day this book will be transformed into a film as Michelle Yeoh has optioned for the rights. Till then read the book.

3 April 2019

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