“Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World” is a book by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope that tells the story of Jho Low, a Malaysian businessman who orchestrated one of the largest financial scandals in history. The book provides a detailed account of how Low used his charm, connections, and wealth to deceive some of the world’s biggest banks, investors, and celebrities, and siphon billions of dollars from the Malaysian government’s sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB.
The book traces Low’s rise to prominence as a dealmaker and partygoer in the international business scene. He managed to gain the trust and confidence of some of the world’s biggest banks, investors, and celebrities, who were drawn to his charisma, charm, and apparent wealth. Low used this trust and confidence to orchestrate a complex scheme to siphon billions of dollars from 1MDB.
The authors provide a detailed account of how Low created a network of shell companies, offshore accounts, and corrupt officials to launder the money and invest it in a variety of high-profile ventures, including real estate projects, luxury yachts, and Hollywood movies. He also threw lavish parties, bought expensive art, and rubbed shoulders with some of the world’s most powerful people.
The book also sheds light on the complicity of some of the world’s biggest banks and financial institutions in the scandal. It provides a detailed account of how Low used his connections and influence to secure loans and investments from these institutions, even though he had no visible source of income. The authors also highlight the role played by corrupt officials in Malaysia, who helped Low to manipulate the system and evade detection.
Despite the complexity of the scheme, the authors show how Low was able to fool so many people by exploiting their greed and ambition. Low presented himself as a savvy investor who had access to exclusive deals and opportunities. He also played on people’s desire to be associated with wealth and power, and used his connections to create an illusion of legitimacy around his activities.
One of the strengths of the book is its detailed and well-researched account of the scandal. The authors provide a wealth of information and insights into how the scheme was carried out, and how it was eventually uncovered by investigators. They also provide a detailed account of how Low tried to evade capture and extradition, and how he continues to live a life of luxury in China, despite being wanted by authorities in several countries.
One of the major players who were fooled by Jho Low was Goldman Sachs, who helped to arrange $6.5 billion in bond sales for 1MDB, earning more than $600 million in fees. In the book, the authors describe how Jho Low used his charm and connections to persuade Goldman Sachs bankers to overlook warning signs and red flags and to participate in the fraudulent scheme.
Another individual who was taken in by Jho Low was the Hollywood producer, Riza Aziz, who is the stepson of the former Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak. Jho Low used his connections to convince Aziz to set up the production company Red Granite Pictures, which he used to finance the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street.” The authors describe how Jho Low used money embezzled from 1MDB to fund the movie, which was directed by Martin Scorsese and starred Leonardo DiCaprio.
Politicians in Malaysia were also fooled by Jho Low, who used his wealth and connections to exert influence over the government and secure lucrative contracts for his businesses. The authors describe how Jho Low cultivated close relationships with high-ranking officials in the Malaysian government, including former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is currently facing charges related to the 1MDB scandal.
Another strength of the book is its focus on the human stories behind the scandal. The authors provide a vivid and compelling portrait of Low, his family, and his associates, and show how their actions affected the lives of millions of people in Malaysia and around the world. They also highlight the role played by investigative journalists and whistleblowers in uncovering the scandal, and the personal risks and sacrifices they had to make in order to do so.
Overall, “Billion Dollar Whale” is a fascinating and well-written account of one of the largest financial scandals in history. It provides a valuable insight into the inner workings of the international business scene, and the ways in which greed and ambition can lead to corruption and deception. The book is a must-read for anyone interested in the world of finance and business, and the lessons that can be learned from this scandal.