Get a free audiobook

Billion Dollar Whale

Written by: Bradley Hope, Tom Wright
Narrated by: Will Collyer
Length: 12 hrs and 26 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (104 ratings)

CDN$ 14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

The definitive inside account of the 1MDB scandal, "a true life thriller" (Ben Mezrich) about a "modern Gatsby" who managed to swindle over $5 billion with the aid of Goldman Sachs and others - a "must read" (Booklist) "epic tale" (Publishers Weekly, starred review) that exposes the secret nexus of elite wealth, banking, Hollywood, and politics from two award-winning Wall Street Journal reporters.

In 2009, with the dust yet to settle on the financial crisis, a baby-faced, seemingly mild-mannered Wharton grad began setting in motion a fraud of unprecedented gall and magnitude - one that would come to symbolize the next great threat to the global financial system. His name is Jho Low, a man whose behavior was so preposterous he might seem made up. 

An epic true tale of hubris and greed, Billion Dollar Whale reveals how this young social climber pulled off one of the biggest heists in history - right under the nose of the global financial industry. Federal agents who helped unravel Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme say the 1MDB affair will become the textbook case of financial fraud in the modern age - and its fallout is already being credited for taking down the prime minister of Malaysia. 

For listeners of Liar's Poker, Den of Thieves, and Bad Blood, Billion Dollar Whale will become a classic, harrowing parable about finance run amok.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2018 Bradley Hope and Tom Wright (P)2018 Hachette Audio

What the critics say

"The story of a massive international financial scandal.... As the authors amply prove, the scandal reaches far beyond Low. To succeed, he relied on the naivete, greed, and generally immoral conduct of huge banks as well as corrupt governments." (Kirkus)

"Even the most skilled fiction writer would have trouble conjuring the corrupt and colorful protagonist of Billion Dollar Whale. Bradley Hope and Tom Wright's gripping portrait of Jho Low and his enablers throughout the global financial system will both fascinate and enrage you." (Sheelah Kolhatkar, staff writer at The New Yorker and New York Times best-selling author of Black Edge)

"Wright and Hope transform their investigation of a mind-boggling financial fraud into a nonfiction thriller.... This is an epic tale of white-collar crime on a global scale." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

More from the same

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    71
  • 4 Stars
    30
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    61
  • 4 Stars
    28
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    65
  • 4 Stars
    25
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Sort by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Fascinating story but can be boring and often extremely difficult to follow.

I’m really disappointed with this book. I was vaguely familiar with the story and was excited to get the full account in detail. While the story itself is fascinating, the book overall was really difficult to get through. I listened to the audio book, which probably made it even more difficult but the cast of characters was incredibly large and it was hard to keep track of who was who. The writers went into long boring detail about the details of the scam which I normally would appreciate but, in this case, I felt I needed a finance degree to understand all of the ins and outs. I wish the writers had done a better job explaining the details in layman’s terms so the average reader could follow along easier. I found myself zoning out a lot and having to rewind. Overall, great story, but save yourself some time and read the Cole’s Notes instead :-)

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating Story

The story is well written and the narration was easy to understand. An amazing story that would be unbelievable if it were not true.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing story!

Reads like fiction, tough to believe it’s a true story! Authors did a great job investigating and retelling the events in an engaging and thoughtful manner.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it. Exciting from end to end!

A brilliant book. The brashness of the characters is almost nonfiction! It's a rare glimpse at what happens when intelligence and ambition meet greed and opportunity...

It goes to show celebrities have no moral compass either. The majority of the characters in this book were simply attached to the wealth. As for Mr. Low, he makes the fictional Jay Gatsby look like a small peanut. It's truly an incredible account of the underworld of high finance and the lives of the 0.1% where very few things in life can't be bought... except for maybe his Taiwanese girlfriend who genuinely seemed to be the only "normal" person in the entire story.

Having been to the clubs and casinos in Vegas and seen the large mansions in the Hollywood Hills, it makes you wonder what percentage of those people who live there had to do unsightly things to get there...

Get it. My favourite book of the year #Audible1

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-05-15

Long and detailed but still worth it

Details are greater than needed to get the story so it was a long listen, but still worth it to hear this unbelievable fraud.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • E in Atlanta
  • ATLANTA, GA, United States
  • 2018-12-19

This explained so much to me

I look forward to the inevitable movie. I'd like to see a documentary like The Smartest Guys in the Room made from this.

The writing here didn't grab me so much that I'd recommend this to everyone, but I did learn a lot about an under-reported topic.

29 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Customer
  • 2019-07-13

For anyone who loves stories of white collar crime

I am a huge fan of the podcast Swindled, which primarily covers stories of white collar crime and corporate scandals. The podcast went on hiatus between seasons and I needed something to hold me over! That's when I took to Audible and found this book. I can definitely say it filled that void and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The story is about a Malaysian man who schemed his way to billions of dollars through political conspiracy, bribery, and loopholes, mostly to impress Hollywood celebrities and make rich people think he was cool.

If you're like me and enjoy infuriating stories of greed and corruption you will love this one!
(You will also love Swindled podcast, go check it out.)

28 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • A lane
  • WINDERMERE, FL, US
  • 2018-10-05

Couldn’t stop listening!

I just finished listening to Bad blood and didn’t think this book would come close. It did and may be better. It is just an incredible story. Possibly the greatest heist of all time.

57 of 64 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sally
  • 2019-01-25

Soooooo Good!

First of all this topic is always one of my favorites I love learning about things that really happened especially when it comes to the realm of Finance. Often with books of this subject it can be a little overwhelming and a little too much information and not enough story, but not in the case of billion dollar whale. This story is exceptionally well written and keeps you enthralled from beginning to end, lots of facts tied up in a well-written storyline the only thing that makes it complicated is jho low himself with all his financial antics. Probably one of the best books I've read of its kind.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Justin Wong
  • 2019-01-24

What a story!

Hard to believe its real. Great narration and an even better story. Really shows the research done in order to. Write this book. Was hard to put down, or should I say pause? Highly recommended listen!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • D. Mitchell
  • Cooltown, USA
  • 2019-06-28

Good but it drags

The story was good, especially with it being true. However, I felt my mind wondering to other things while listening to it and wishing the last 2-3 hours of it would just hurry up and be over.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • laislandhopper
  • 2018-11-14

Great story, poor narration and drags on

It is a fascinating story but it seemed to go on and on and I was relieved when it was over. Also, the narrator wasn't very good and mispronounced several words.

38 of 44 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 2018-10-01

a must read, 90% accurate but...

A must read but for a more accurate depiction of the 1MDB saga, read "The Sarawak Report

22 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Philomath
  • 2018-10-06

All too common theft at a colossal level

Excellent book highlighting a great heist of billions of dollars by, corruption, perception, and just outright thievery. The author put a lot of time collating information from investigations, witnesses, and anonymous sources.

What was most interesting was not the scale of the stealing that went, and is still going on, but the celebrity hanger-on-ers, that enjoyed and benefited from the lavish gifts such criminals had to offer. No one wanted to know where the money came from. I would say they probably did but didn’t care.

An all too common occurrence in the modern world where disparity between the haves and have nots correlates with the unethical, and illegal white colour crimes of bankers and most philanthropists. Ironic that the galvanising of the movie The Wolf of Wall-street was partly paid for by the new wolf of Asia. The sad truth of the new superheroes of the 21st century.

No one gets indicted unless they are reckless, and this guy was as reckless as they come. For the rest its business as usual. Interestingly Jho Low “the whale” in hiding is currently trying to cut a deal with the US Gov. where he may keep the Billions he stole from the Malaysian people. As usual the inferred complicity of bankers such as Goldman are only hidden by the Lawyers they put at their defence, where they only have to pay 5 billion + as penalty, to get a no guilty verdict.

Highly recommended book, that will be looked at, in history as just another piece when the whales went nuts, borrowed so much, and have the system crash on them, at the cost of tax payers and future generations.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful