The epic story of how a young social climber from Malaysia pulled off one of the biggest financial heists in history.
In 2015, rumours began circulating that billions of dollars had been stolen from a Malaysian investment fund. The mastermind of the heist was twenty-seven-year-old Jho Low, a serial fabulist from an upper-middle-class Malaysian family, who had carefully built his reputation as a member of the jet-setting elite by arranging and financing elaborate parties for Wall Street bankers, celebrities, and even royalty.
With the aid of Goldman Sachs and others, Low stole billions of dollars, right under the nose of global financial industry watchdogs. He used the money to finance elections, purchase luxury real estate, throw champagne-drenched parties, and bankroll Hollywood films like The Wolf of Wall Street.
Billion Dollar Whale reveals how this silver-tongued con man, a ‘modern Gatsby’, emerged from obscurity to pull off one of the most audacious financial heists the world has ever seen, and how the financial industry let him. It is a classic harrowing parable of hubris and greed in the financial world.
Wall Street Journal correspondents Wright and Hope transform their investigation of a mind-boggling financial fraud into a nonfiction thriller tracking the rise and fall of Jho Low, the "alleged mastermind of a multi-billion-dollar scam." In 2003, Low convinced an adviser to the rulers of the United Arab Emirates that he could broker deals between Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian governments. He then parlayed that connection into a relationship with a Goldman Sachs banker, who helped set up a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund in 2009, which was overseen by Najib Razak, the prime minister of Malaysia and Low's family friend. The authors contend that Razak turned a blind eye while Low siphoned billions of dollars from the state fund into a "byzantine labyrinth of bank accounts, offshore companies, and other complex financial structures." Low, still a fugitive, used the stolen loot to "build a Hollywood production company, commission one of the world's grandest yachts, and throw wildly decadent parties around the globe." The authors explain how lax oversight enabled Low to carry out such a scheme. Complete with an epigraph from Jordan Belfort of Wolf of Wall Street fame, this is an epic tale of white-collar crime on a global scale.