what made this guy want to spend so much cash in secret?
September 16, 2018 1:46 PM   Subscribe

The Billion-Dollar Mystery Man and the Wildest Party Vegas Ever Saw Tom Wright and Bradley Hope just shared an excerpt from the prologue of their book, "Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World", touted as the definitive account of the 1MDB scandal. (previously), focusing on the man still at-large, Jho Low. (twitter link to the article) Naturally, he's not taking it standing down, and his lawyers have been sending out legal letters to bookstores around the world. Back home, the book is selling fast and pirated PDFs are being freely shared. At the same time, Clare Rewcastle-Brown has also launched her own book of her investigative journalism on the scandal, in Malaysia no less, a fact unimaginable before the last election. Welp, Happy Malaysia Day!
posted by cendawanita (23 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Non-paywall link for first link, WSJ article.
posted by Nelson at 2:07 PM on September 16, 2018 [5 favorites]

Pirate copies of ‘Billion Dollar Whale’ spreading through social media

He likes hanging out with celebrities, now he gets to meet Streisand
posted by chavenet at 3:31 PM on September 16, 2018 [6 favorites]

I still cannot quite believe that the whole 1MDB nightmare happened, and that he's still free (although I suppose China would be willing to trade him for some maritime concessions).
posted by aramaic at 4:13 PM on September 16, 2018

Schillings should just drop the first "S"
posted by bz at 5:10 PM on September 16, 2018

thanks for the post - added to my reading list for next week. crooked SOBs like this guy, putin, deripaska confirm what most of us think of the very rich.
posted by specialk420 at 5:13 PM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

During Q-Tip’s session, a drunk Mr. DiCaprio got on stage and rapped alongside him.

This makes me feel so happy to not be a celebrity
posted by thelonius at 5:20 PM on September 16, 2018 [7 favorites]

"1MDB" = 1Malaysia Development Berhad, for anyone else who had no idea
posted by thelonius at 5:29 PM on September 16, 2018

"1MDB" = 1Malaysia Development Berhad, for anyone else who had no idea

Am I the only one who initially misread this as "IMDB" and thought he had something to do with the Internet Movie Database?
posted by gtrwolf at 5:37 PM on September 16, 2018 [14 favorites]

Maybe that's why he wants to break into Hollywood so much.

crooked SOBs like this guy, putin, deripaska confirm what most of us think of the very rich

And they're all in this together. Such true expressions of solidarity. This fund's shenanigans every so often gets a cameo in the megathreads thru Broidy (for eg), like this: Leaked Emails Appear To Show A Top Trump Fundraiser Abusing His Power. And that's only one connection. The other one I know about is the Malaysian developer group that did the Toronto Trump Tower, though not directly linked to Low, merely PM Najib.
posted by cendawanita at 5:50 PM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Thanks also to Nelson for the non-paywall link. I hoped that the Twitter link I added would also work, that's how I got access.
posted by cendawanita at 5:52 PM on September 16, 2018

In the meantime, Amazon US is selling it for a hefty discount. If it weren't for weight limits on luggage, you could make a quick trip to the UK pay for itself.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:00 PM on September 16, 2018

Disgusting. He's a fucker but the artists who sold themselves to him are so depressing and awful. There are no rules for the finance economy. Even if he was extradited and convicted, the whole system is built to protect those who are just a bit less ostentatious but on the same basic trajectory. Fuck everything. If you're not a socialist in 2018 you're on the wrong damn team.
posted by latkes at 8:51 PM on September 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

Annnnd, Jho Low just launched his own website.

Let me be clear: I am innocent. With hindsight I may have done things differently, like any
young person, but any mistakes I made do not amount to the sweepingly broad and destructive
allegations being made against me.

brb need to invent a time travel machine because clearly i spent my youth wrong for not spending it on champagne to be poured all over a celebutante.
posted by cendawanita at 1:20 AM on September 17, 2018

From the NYPost article linked above:

Also there was Jordan Belfort, the subject of "The Wolf of Wall Street," who had spent 22 months in prison for crimes related to a stock fraud scheme...

"'This is a f-king scam -- anybody who does this has stolen money,' Belfort told his girlfriend, as the music thumped. 'You wouldn’t spend money you worked for like that.'"

posted by gimonca at 3:36 AM on September 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

This article is fun for focussing on Jho Low's ridiculous excesses. But the 1MDB scandal goes much wider and deeper. Malaysia's previous Prime Minister Najib Razak skimmed at least $700M off Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund. It seemed certain he was going to get away with it too, and remain in power, but surprisingly he lost the election in May and has now been charged with corruption.

Twitter links often help you bypass the WSJ paywall. But I run so many ad and tracker blockers that doesn't work for me, so I often turn to archive.is for things. I pay for a lot of other news sources, but not the WSJ.
posted by Nelson at 6:47 AM on September 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

At the height of his recklessness, the authors estimate that Low may have had access to more cash at any one time than anyone in history.

I'm not sure how that's true; $5 billion is still a lot of money even for the modern superplutocracy, but other people have had huge fortunes that weren't tied up in investments or whatever. Unless he literally had 5 gigabucks in literal cash, all in a pile like Scrooge McDuck.

Disgusting. He's a fucker but the artists who sold themselves to him are so depressing and awful.

This is kind of a recurring thing with celebrities who get tall coin for making appearances at the parties of deep-pocket people who--whoops!--turn out to be crooks or human rights abusers. All the vetting that the beautiful people do is to make sure that the check clears.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:50 AM on September 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

He's a fucker but the artists who sold themselves to him are so depressing and awful.

As far as they knew, he was just some random rich asshole willing to pay a lot for a private performance. There are obvious limits to that principle--say, anyone with "Kim Jong" in their name, or the kind of parties where the bad juju is front-and-center and all a reasonable person can do is get done, get out, and yell at their agent for not doing better--but mostly I'm not sure how it's morally different from playing a big concert where those same rich assholes buy out the suites. The actors aren't performing, but they are doing business development. They've been schmoozing with rich assholes who might finance their next picture their whole careers; that some of them were "in the industry" and Low was not, well, Low allegedly embezzled billions but I've not heard allegations of rape and coercion like we've heard recently out of the "legitimate" industry.
posted by praemunire at 8:56 AM on September 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Author: ‘Whale’ a tale of fraud and Jho Low’s life of excess: Posting synopses from various parts of Whale on Twitter, Wright crafted the image of the quintessential grifter, describing Low as deceitful since his student days when the Penang-native plagiarised WSJ reports and presented these as his own. [...] Much of the thread appears designed to counter Low’s allegation that Whale focused unfairly on his playboy image to foment “guilt by lifestyle” and that the book did not demonstrate his direct involvement in the alleged defrauding of Malaysia through 1MDB.

Jho Low used Najib as cover story, ‘Billion Dollar Whale’ author says: “He had the prime minister as cover. He ran a sovereign wealth fund which has more money than hedge fund and private equity combined.
“This guy was running it from behind the scene, he had the cover. When you are dealing with that kind of money people don’t ask questions, compliance totally broke down here,” he [Wright] said on Squawk Box, the US network CNBC’s programme.

Away from glitz of criminal trials, AG says real work on 1MDB happens behind scenes: The main effort to undo the damage of the 1MDB scandal takes place in the mundane setting of civil actions aimed at recouping money stolen from the state investment firm, said Tommy Thomas.
The attorney general (AG) said while most of the world’s attention was focused on the criminal aspects of the case — such as the prosecution of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak — the substantive work was taking place quietly in the arena of civil proceedings.
- this is taken from an interview with The Edge Malaysia.
posted by cendawanita at 7:38 PM on September 18, 2018

Happy Najib has been arrested day!
posted by ahundredjarsofsky at 6:11 AM on September 19, 2018

The second part of The Edge's interview with the A-G:

Q: The PM [Mahathir] has spoken over and over again about lopsided contracts. You are quite an expert in commercial litigation and contracts. Maybe you can share some aspects or some examples, and whether these lopsided contracts can be renegotiated to reduce the financial damage to Malaysia or it’s something that’s totally out of our hands, and we have to deal with and pay the compensation.

A: There are different types of such contracts. Again, the problem is much worse than I thought. As somebody outside following public affairs, one was aware of one-sided contracts, starting with road concessionaires, power plants and the like. But once I’ve come in, I have seen literally hundreds of such contracts. Let’s divide them into external and internal contracts.

External, you have got Singapore and the HSR (high-speed rail). Whether it’s fair or not, may be a matter of discussion, but I won’t say it’s a lopsided contract. We did well and Singapore was generous by agreeing to the suspension even though the contract did not provide for it. Hence, it constituted a variation of the original contract, which Singapore agreed to. That speaks well for good Causeway relations. That is the HSR.

Then there’s China. The PM was outstanding. Not many foreign leaders have gone to China and persuaded China to vary its contracts. The PM convinced the president and PM of China. The problem is we have now to look at the consequences of the termination, even if it is a mutual termination by China and Malaysia of these contracts. We have to start hard bargaining on the effects and consequences of mutual termination. That’s a tough proposition. We’re forming teams to prepare for them.

Q: How long will that take?

A: Hopefully not too long. A lot of money is at stake, and loans are involved. We have already told China we are ready to negotiate!

Internally, there are hundreds of such contracts. What we didn’t realise is the number involved. We have highway contracts, services contracts, private finance which are build-lease-maintain-and-transfer (46 of them), ports, etc. Many categories — there are over 350 contracts of that nature. Also procurement contracts — we just drew a line in the review on the value — and that’s over 300 such contracts. The number is just mind-boggling. All the ministries were doing it. Again, we have a very strong contracts review team and they are reviewing these contracts.

Q: Just within the AGC? No external help?

A: Yes, within [the AG’s] Chambers: we don’t need external help. Some of these AGC members were very unhappy because when they objected to these lopsided contracts prior to their execution, they were overruled by their former political masters, that is, ministers. They are unsung heroes. They are civil servants, and the previous PM and the MoF just brushed them aside. They are therefore familiar with these contracts. But the trouble is that these contracts have clauses that are very favourable to the counterparties, and unfavourable to the government. We are trying to be creative and imaginative. At least two or three times a week, I spend hours with the contracts review lawyers. My corporate commercial litigation experience is combined with the draftsmen and technical advisers in Chambers.

For WSJ writers, 'Save Malaysia' was no mere opposition slogan

Sometime in 2015, Malaysian investigators had to pull the brakes on investigations against prime minister Najib Abdul Razak on the 1MDB scandal.

Eventually, investigators decided that their only option left was to leak the investigation documents to the press.

According to Bradley Hope and Tom Wright in their book The Billion Dollar Whale, Malaysian investigators turned to them after they (the American journalists) had published an article in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that detailed how Najib allegedly used 1MDB as a slush fund.

"That story caught the eye of an intermediary for the (Malaysian) task force. A few days later, a Malaysian source met Simon Clark, a reporter with WSJ in London, to confirm the veracity of the documents - which the intermediary handed over hours later. Sarawak Report also received them.

"The files, copies of wire transfer documents into Najib's accounts as well as money-flow diagrams produced by the task force, were explosive," the book states.

Interestingly, the Malaysian sources of Hope and Wright had passed them encrypted computer files that could only be unlocked with the password "SaveMalaysia", a catchphrase that was used repeatedly by opposition parties in the run-up to the May 9 general election.

Najib hit with 25 charges of graft and money laundering

Najib has tendency to interfere in cases, Sessions Court told

Najib: ‘I am no thief and I will clear my name’
posted by cendawanita at 8:09 PM on September 20, 2018

Speaking of Crazy Rich Asians, Michelle Yeoh snapped a pic of her and her copy of the book. Feel free to read the comments pointing out her support for Najib not so long ago.
posted by cendawanita at 5:41 AM on September 22, 2018

all my 'real life Crazy Rich Asians' jokes coming true:

Sumisha Naidu: #BillionDollarWhale author @TomWrightAsia confirmed the news - #1MDB is going to Hollywood and Michelle Yeoh will produce.

best reply:
So when it comes out, we need to pay money to watch a movie of how our money got stolen to a person who supported the person who stole our money. 🤯 If this one bootleg version can watch or not?
posted by cendawanita at 6:53 PM on September 27, 2018

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