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Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World Paperback – October 22, 2019
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A Fortune magazine Best Book of 2018
"As Bad Blood is to biotech, Billion Dollar Whale is to international finance... a wonderful read... Thrilling."―Bill Gates
"What a blast to read! A true life thriller that reads like a Hollywood movie, Billion Dollar Whale traces the exploits of the most mercurial, mysterious big player in history. Jho Low is Gatsby with twice the bank account and ten times the ambition, and the stories surrounding his exploits leap right off the page!"―Ben Mezrich, New York Times bestselling author of The Accidental Billionaires and Bringing Down The House
"If you like global intrigue, financial crime, wealth porn, and absurdity, Billion Dollar Whale, by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, is for you.... It almost seems made up. Still, anyone who has followed the news out of Malaysia will know that the story is all too real."―The New Yorker
"Wright and Hope deliver a scintillating and prodigiously reported tale of a globe-spanning modern Gatsby and his audacious fraud."―Jesse Eisinger, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for ProPublica and author of The Chickenshit Club
"This story of a Wharton graduate who carried out the $5 billion swindle known as 1MDB offers a textbook case of financial fraud in the modern age."―New York Times
"An incredible story.... If you need some billionaires to despise--look no further than these charlatans."―Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit
"Just finished reading Billion Dollar Whale and was blown away. I thought I had seen it all with Russian kleptocracy, but the story of the money stolen in Malaysia in 1MDB and all the enthusiastic Western enablers was unbelievable."
―Bill Browder, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Red Notice
"Even the most skilled fiction writer would have trouble conjuring the corrupt and colorful protagonist of Billion Dollar Whale. Bradley Hope and Tom Wright's gripping portrait of Jho Low and his enablers throughout the global financial system will both fascinate and enrage you."―Sheelah Kolhatkar, staff writer at The New Yorker and New York Times bestselling author of Black Edge
About the Author
Bradley Hope has worked for the Wall Street Journal for the last four years, covering finance and malfeasance from New York City and London. Before that, he spent six years as a correspondent in the Middle East, where he covered the Arab Spring uprisings from Cairo, Tripoli, Tunis, and Beirut. He was detained by authorities in Bahrain, reported from the front lines of the Libyan civil war, and has been teargassed in raucous Egyptian protests. Bradley is a Pulitzer finalist and a Loeb winner, and also author of Last Days of the Pharaoh, a chronicle of the final days and hours of the presidency of Hosni Mubarak.
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The saying goes that all is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. I always thought this was true in our govt at the time, but this book opened my eyes to them being many good men and women even in the govt who did their part.
Thank you Tom and Bradley for the detailed work you put in to write this work. It can't be easy collecting all this information. For that you deserve every star I have to give in this review
First the praise. This is very readable account of an almost incredible financial fraud. The sums of money involved are mind-blowing and for the principal culprit to have achieved this from a starting point of an everyday regular person is inspiring or terrifying according to your viewpoint. Large numbers of celebrities are identified as having essentially demeaned themselves for financial reward. This is the tabloid approach, including micro detail about what champagne they drank, where they drank it, where their jewellery came from etc. etc.
Alas, though, the analysis of the financial fraud leaves vast numbers of questions unanswered. Just one example: The Malaysian (as he is frequently referred to throughout the book) regularly deceived the banking community by opening accounts in the names redolent of huge and solid financial institutions. The tabloid reader might be inclined to think "What a cunning rogue!" but the reader seeking quality journalism wants to know how such an obvious trick managed to fool the banks. To put this into more everyday terms, if I opened bank accounts with names redolent of Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, the bank which believed me might well expect huge cashflows to appear, but they would surely realise that this could well be the fraudulent action of a money launderer and would undertake due diligence to ascertain the veracity of the account. Issues such as this are not pursued inside the book.
Good luck to the authors in selling the movie rights, but I was hoping for serious investigation.
Not only that, but it can be said with some certainty that in both instances (Elizabeth Holmes’ pseudo-science in “Bad Blood” and Jho Low’s / Najib Razhak’s stolen billions in “Billion Dollar Whale”) the Journal has played a pivotal role in shining light on these crimes and bringing the criminals to justice.
Indeed, I finished this book pretty much on the same day as Goldman was forced to let go of Andrea Vella, the head of its Asian business, for the crimes described here.
If, like me, you are a “glass half-empty” kind of guy, of course, you will also remark that it’s a terrible state of affairs when journalists are ahead of our justice system (to say nothing of the supposed pillars of our capitalist system), but that cannot possibly detract from what was a tremendous, fast paced, comprehensive and rather convincing book.
The crime of money laundering and the technique of “layering” are rather tedious, of course. And the number of characters in the book makes the “cast of characters” in the introduction a total must. But the main character in the book, Jho Low, was such a party animal that (provided you have a tolerance for what felt like at least one dodgy financial transaction per page) this was actually a fun book to read.
And it tickled the voyeur in me, who got to see “how the other half live.” Frankly, I’ve now had my fill of Swizz Beats, Alicia Keys, Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Miranda Kerr, to say nothing of the sundry Sheikhs, their boats and their jets; any tips on how to get the cigar smoke off my clothes are welcome!
Top international reviews
This book reveals 2 things.. (1) The US banking houses like Goldman Sachs learned absolutely NOTHING from the mortgage meltdown in 2008-09 and continued their shady deals out of greed and (2) There will be other Jho Lows out there taking advantage of this continuous lack of oversight.
This book is so well written and researched. A real page turner and highly recommended to those of you who enjoy real-life non-fiction books.
A must-read book if you want to know how raw greed can make people do what they did.