Billion* Dollar Whale - Hope and Wright

Bradley Hope and Tom Wright

The man who fooled Wall Street, Hollywood and the World.

For Malaysians, this book deals with a side issue of a much larger problem - the criminal activity of a Prime Minister and his wife. Najib and Rosmah both stand convicted of corruption. Najib is in jail. Rosmah continues her shenanigans that caused delays in her trial - and she has been granted an adjournment of her appeal until 29th November 2023.

This book is a convenient digest of material that was in the public domain, including much written by the authors for major news outlets. The style of writing sensationalises a subject that is already sensational enough: the behaviour of Jho Low, the subject of the book. Low's association with Najib and, through that, some comment on Najib's activities.

Where it does provide a very helpful summary is in relation to the various high-powered, even Royal, persons who were more than happy to accept money for little more than putting their name on things.

It's a rollicking tale. mostly accurate, of how a young man from Penang, starting at school in England, created an entirely false image that resulted in his gaining access to vast wealth, spending on a lavish scale to impress people who really should have known better and worked his way through the global banking system which, in most cases, seems to have accepted the money at face value - even when he ran out and had to run cons to replenish his supply.

Skilfully manipulating a wide range of financiers - and the Malaysian government - he accumulated toys, women and a lifestyle that is beyond comprehension. And he did it in a very short period of years.

Reading it today, five years after publication, but while the trials of Najib and Rosmah continue, and as banks settle claims by Malaysia (and in one case seemingly reneging on the settlement deal) it provides a useful backdrop to a story that seems to have no end in sight

But it's not a "billion" - it's a milliard.

Nigel Morris-Cotterill