Named a Best Book of 2018 by the Financial Times and Fortune, this "thrilling" (Bill Gates) New York Times bestseller exposes how a "modern Gatsby" swindled over $5 billion with the aid of Goldman Sachs in "the heist of the century" (Axios).
Now a #1 international bestseller, BILLION DOLLAR WHALE is "an epic tale of white-collar crime on a global scale" ( Publishers Weekly, starred review), revealing how a young social climber from Malaysia pulled off one of the biggest heists in history.
In 2009, a chubby, mild-mannered graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business named Jho Low set in motion a fraud of unprecedented gall and magnitudeone that would come to symbolize the next great threat to the global financial system. Over a decade, Low, with the aid of Goldman Sachs and others, siphoned billions of dollars from an investment fundright under the nose of global financial industry watchdogs. Low used the money to finance elections, purchase luxury real estate, throw champagne-drenched parties, and even to finance Hollywood films like The Wolf of Wall Street.
By early 2019, with his yacht and private jet reportedly seized by authorities and facing criminal charges in Malaysia and in the United States, Low had become an international fugitive, even as the U.S. Department of Justice continued its investigation.
BILLION DOLLAR WHALE has joined the ranks of Liar's Poker, Den of Thieves, and Bad Blood as a classic harrowing parable of hubris and greed in the financial world.
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About the Author
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.
Table of Contents
Authors' Note xi
Cast of Characters xv
Part I The Invention of Jho Low
Chapter 1 Fake Photos 13
Chapter 2 Asian Great Gatsby 22
Chapter 3 Win Tons of Money 27
Chapter 4 We're Going to Need a Bigger Van 32
Chapter 5 A Nice Toy 42
Chapter 6 Doctor Leissner, I Presume 49
Chapter 7 Saudi "Royalty" (The First Heist) 61
Chapter 8 Hitting a Gold Mine 67
Chapter 9 "I Feel the Earth Move" 74
Part II Overnight Billionaire
Chapter 10 An Evening with the Playmates 81
Chapter 11 Raining Cristal 94
Chapter 12 How to Spend a Billion 99
Chapter 13 Where's Our Money? 104
Chapter 14 Roll the Presses 111
Chapter 15 Welcome to New York 115
Chapter 16 Shitty, Junk Products 119
Chapter 17 My Good Friend, Leo 127
Chapter 18 Two-Million-Kuro Bottle Parade 132
Chapter 19 "Keep Your Nonsense to Yourself" 140
Chapter 20 Belfort Smells a Scam 147
Chapter 21 Bitter Severance 155
Chapter 22 Penthouse with a View 159
Chapter 23 Switzerland of the East 164
Chapter 24 Brazen Sky 170
Chapter 25 Goldman and the Sheikh (The Second Heist) 176
Chapter 26 Bilking the State 182
Part III Empire
Chapter 27 Making Busta His Bitch 197
Chapter 28 All the Wealth in the World 203
Chapter 29 Mystique of the Orient 211
Chapter 30 "681 American Pies" (The Third Heist) 216
Chapter 31 Art No One Can See 227
Chapter 32 Jewelers and Bankers 235
Chapter 33 Bona Fide Business 242
Chapter 34 140 Gigabytes 247
Chapter 35 Leo's Wall Street indictment 252
Chapter 36 The Oval Office 256
Chapter 37 Size Matters 265
Chapter 38 Losing Control 270
Part IV Bonfire Of Secrets
Chapter 39 "No Cash. No Deal." 283
Chapter 40 Generous Jho 292
Chapter 41 Sacks of Money 296
Chapter 42 The Expose 303
Chapter 43 Buttocks in a G-String 309
Chapter 44 Strongman Najib 315
Part V The Captain's Resolve
Chapter 45 Prosecutor in an Oil Drum 327
Chapter 46 Special Agent Bill McMurry 330
Chapter 47 Partying on the Run 340
Chapter 48 China Connection 344
Chapter 49 Glass Half Full 348
Chapter 50 White-Collar Crime 352
Chapter 51 King Khadem Falls 361
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Billion Dollar Whale is an examination of one of the most unbelievable financial frauds in recent history. Jho Low, an unassuming, socially awkward Malaysian with “twice the bank account and ten times the ambition” of Jay Gatsby, executes a scheme years in the making. This book accomplishes the task of unpacking that scheme, meticulous in its reporting and entertaining in its storytelling. Wright and Hope do an expert job of making Low’s story accessible, even to those with limited knowledge of finance. Despite an intricate system of shell companies and off-shore accounts making Low’s scam possible, Wright and Hope report in such a way that the reader doesn’t feel left behind or bogged down by all the financial milieu. Adding even more to this story is the fact that it doesn’t just unfold within the financial world, but the entertainment world as well, pulling in characters like Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese, and Beyoncé. Low finesses his way up the ladder of the social elite, gaining the trust of the world’s most influential figures and pouring his money into any empty space. Billion Dollar Whale is reminiscent of John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood, which exposed the inner workings of Elizabeth Holmes’s Theranos; both center on strange, enigmatic characters, making for extremely gripping reads with a psychological edge. Even if this book seems outside of your comfort zone, I highly recommend giving it a try; you won’t be disappointed.
I think you really need to have a working knowledge of international banking and finance to appreciate all the details in this book. For the casual reader it is easy to get lost in and lose track of (and hence get bored with) all the shell companies, limited partnerships, look alike/sound alike funds, etc etc,etc. It’s really quite difficult to follow
The true story of the world financial system that enables political leaders who harvest the wealth from their own countries for their own personal gain- and in this case with an assist from one Jho Low. A smooth talking and lavish spending grifter on a scale the world has never seen. Extensively researched and smoothly written this book will keep you up late as you hobnob with Hollywood and music industry celebrities and world leaders who all enjoy a taste of the good life thanks to the hyper extravagant spending of Jho Low who throws around billions of dollars in stolen money. I can't wait to see the documentary.
Fascinating story, well written
Astounding piece of investigation and disclosure.
Low is not a nice guy. His life is disparaging to many honorable people, institutions and charities. Goldmann Saks should be shuttered, if this account is true.