Review - Billion Dollar Whale

by @edent | # #

Billion Dollar Whale - by Tom Wright & Bradley Hope

Billion Dollar Whale Cover.
This New York Times bestseller about the 1MDB scandal exposes how a "modern Gatsby" swindled over $5 billion with the aid of Goldman Sachs in "the heist of the century.

This book is unbelievable. I have no doubt it all happened - but each page left me agog at the audacity of the characters.

This is the story of how billions of dollars were embezzled from Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund. Previously, I only had a passing familiarity with the 1MDB scandal - I now feel soiled with knowledge.

I'm not sure how I would steal a billion dollars. But, if I did, I'm not sure I'd spent the money on super-model filled Vegas parties and over-priced champagne. Perhaps I lack imagination...

Jho Low doesn't make for a sympathetic character. I could understand if he were motivated to steal to cover bad investments, or to play Robin Hood, or even because he truly thought his investments were best for his country. But - according to the authors - he spent all that money buying access to famous people and trying to set himself up as a film mogul.

This is a long and complex tale - and the authors do an admirable job of weaving the strands together. But, towards the end, it just dragged. There's only so many times you can read about rich party-boys buying yachts and jewels before you feel physically sick.

Each character is more disreputable than the last. This isn't an accidental heist, or a cool swindle. It's just grubby corruption. Read this book, then take a long shower afterwards.

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