FILLED WITH JUICY DETAILS ABOUT HOLLYWOOD AND WALL STREET TITANS: From Hollywood names like Leonardo DiCaprio and Miranda Kerr to some of America's most prominent bankers like Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Gary Cohn, now President Trump's top economic advisor, the book is filled with juicy inside stories of bold-faced names. One example: On New Year's Eve in 2012, Jho Low flew friends including DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx in rented Boeing-777 airliners for a champagne-soaked double-dateline celebration, first in Sydney and then in Las Vegas.
AN EPIC STORY OF HUBRIS AND GREED, WITH A LARGER-THAN-LIFE VILLAIN INFATUATED BY HOLLYWOOD: The story of Jho Low has it all: a terrifying, sociopathic villain; a heroic foil; and great American characters like the FBI and Goldman Sachs. Jho Low's personal haul from the 1MDB fund totaled into the hundreds of millions of dollars and he spent it recklessly. One night at the The Palazzo casino on the Las Vegas Strip, Low lost half-a-million dollars in a single hand of baccarat. Upon leaving the casino, he handed shocked casino staff $1.8 million in tips.
FLY-ON-THE-WALL REPORTING: Hope and Wright will employ phone-conversation transcripts, board-room minutes, and investigative documents, all originally sourced for and exclusive to this work, in tandem with recollections from those closest to Najib and Low, to create a tight, tick-tock narrative, a la Michael Lewis or Ben Mezrich.
The dust had yet to settle on the global financial crisis in 2009 when an unlikely Wharton grad set in motion a fraud of unprecedented gall and magnitude--one that would come to symbolize the next great threat to the global financial system. The nuts and bolts of the scheme were shockingly simple: A young, big-talking, huckster persuaded the Prime Minister of Malaysia to create an investment fund that he would direct from the shadows, raised more than ten billion dollars from global investors with the aid of Goldman Sachs and others, and over the next half decade siphoned off no less than $5 billion: money used to finance elections; to purchase luxury real estate in London, New York, and Los Angeles; to produce Hollywood films, including The Wolf of Wall Street--and to throw champagne-drenched parties around the world. Low's largesse also won him friendships with Hollywood actors, Victoria's Secret models, and even with a member of President Obama's inner circle.
More staggering still, no one seemed to notice--not the global banks, such as Goldman and J.P. Morgan, who turned a blind eye to shady transfers of hundreds of millions of dollars; and not the international auditors, central bankers, and official financial-system watchdogs.
At the center of this fraud was Jho Low--a character so preposterous he seems made up. Federal agents who helped unravel Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme say the Jho Low affair, when its full contours become known, will become a textbook case for tracking transnational fraud in the modern age. BILLION DOLLAR WHALE will become a classic, harrowing parable about the financial world in the 21st century.
Tom Wright was one of the first journalists to arrive at the scene of the raid in which Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden. In 2013, he spearheaded coverage of the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, which killed over 1,000 people, earning the Wall Street Journal a Sigma Delta Chi award from The Society of Professional Journalists. He is a Pulitzer finalist, a Loeb winner, and has garnered numerous awards from the Society of Publishers in Asia, which in 2016 named him "Journalist of the Year." He speaks English, Malay, French and Italian.
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.