'Billion Dollar Whale' Co-Author Reveals How Jho Low Became A Baller Through Corruption
Malaysian tycoon Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, has been in the spotlight ever since the 'Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World' book was published this month
By allegedly stealing USD5 billion (RM20.7 billion) from the 1MDB state fund, Jho Low managed to trick his way into living the seemingly 'glamourous' lifestyle
"It's a tale about how money buys anything in the world: a mega-yacht, friendship with Leo DiCaprio, trips to the White House, attention from Goldman Sachs, money+chutzpah make the world go round," the Wall Street Journal reporter continued.
"The more money you have, the more you can manipulate it."
The Penang-born financier was known to spend thousands of dollars throwing lavish birthday parties for himself
For his 20th birthday, he rented out a Philadelphia club called 'Shampoo' that had a naked woman completely covered in sushi, wrote Wright.
As a result of these extravagant parties, Low earned himself the nickname, the "Asian Great Gatsby".
During his birthday bash in 2012, a guest claimed that Low had hired Britney Spears to sing "Happy Birthday" for a whopping USD1 million (RM4 million)!
Low also started his own firm in college called Wynton Group (as in win tons of money).
But how did he have enough money for all of this and more? Wright credits some of it to Low's friendships with wealthy Middle Easterners and Asians.
"He cosied up to Yousef al Otaiba, now UAE ambassador to the US (and friend of Jared Kushner), and the young leader of Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Development Company, Khaldoon al Mubarak. He also grew close to Kuwaiti's wealthiest people," wrote Wright.
Later, he became close with former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's family and eventually convinced Najib to take over the sovereign wealth fund that he created in Terrengganu in 2009.
The fund was known as 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB
Shortly after, Low set up a deal where 1MDB contributed USD1 billion (RM4 billion) and PetroSaudi contributed its assets at a high valuation.
However, during the transfer, a part of the 1MDB fund - USD700 million (RM2.8 billion) - was funnelled to an account of Low's Good Star Ltd (a Seychelles co).
"Some of the money was distributed to PetroSaudi operatives, but the majority was Low's and he quickly began living his best life in NYC," added Wright.
The author continued by saying that Low spent the Good Star money over a period of just eight months – with more than USD10.6 million (RM43.8 million) spent each month
He used the cash to buy a hotel in Los Angeles, and spent USD85 million (RM351 million) on alcohol, gambling, private jets, super-yachts, and paying celebrities to hang out, said Wright.
As time went on, 1MDB auditors would get fired whenever they refused to "sign off on valuations based on flimsy pieces of paper".
However, Low continued to divert the cash, using it to produce 'The Wolf of Wall Street', to buy artwork, real estate, companies, a hedge fund stake, and to convert a Manhattan hotel into luxury apartments.
"Low is now a fugitive in China, fleeing from two Interpol red alert notices," wrote Wright in the Twitter thread.
"He was recently charged in absentia with money laundering in Malaysia," as investigations continue into one of the world's biggest financial scandals.
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