Billion Dollar Whale

The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World

By: Tom Wright, Bradley Hope

Published: 2018.

Read: 2018.


In-depth review of how a guy in his late twenties / early thirties (Jho Low) managed to embezzle and squander USD 5 billion by raiding Malaysia’s investment fund 1MDB, aided and abetted by senior politicians, bankers and lawyers across the globe.

The simplicity, boldness and stupidity of how he did this is astounding. It’s easy to get hung up on the greed and wastefulness of Jho Low at the expense of a developing nation, but there were many in the developed world that were all too eager to help him and go along for the ride.

Worth Reading:

Well written and researched, entertaining and juicy (involvement of well-known actors, musicians – irony #1 is the fact that the “Wolf of Wall Street” movie was financed with dirty money; irony #2 is the fact that Jordan Belfort (the real-life Wolf of Wall Street) smelled a rat and declined to get paid by Jho Low).

Makes you think about the impact of bad actors enabled by powerful professionals, in terms of the immediate monetary costs as well as the long-term harm through the erosion of public trust in both public and private institutions. It also highlights the importance of vigilance, as what is condoned passively (or encouraged actively) in one part of life (finance) spills over and has implications for the world at large. For instance, I remember being in the Wall Street auditorium of Salomon Brothers in the late nineties as Donald Trump rehearsed his roadshow for a large bond offering for one of his companies in front of analysts and traders who were there largely for the free cookies. We all thought his shaky finances, shenanigans and silliness were hilarious. We had no problems selling the bonds.