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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 (133 ratings)

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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)

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    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 :-)

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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great storytelling

This is a crazy story, well told. They capture the magnitude of the theft and just how inept system controls tend to be. really enjoyed the story.

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Amazingly wide ride and thorough

From start to finish, pay attention to the cast of characters as they keep growing and surprising you with their brazen acts and mind numbing arrogance. Well researched and excellently told. Highly recommend.

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Excellent

Well written, incredible story. It captivates you the whole way through. Strongly recommend alongside classics like Liar’s Poker and Den of Thieves for a peek into darker areas of high finance.

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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.

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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.

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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

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • 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.

35 of 39 people found this review helpful

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  • 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.)

33 of 37 people found this review helpful

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  • 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.

25 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • 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.

43 of 49 people found this review helpful

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  • 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.

60 of 69 people found this review helpful

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  • 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.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-05-21

Interesting story, unnecessarily long

Overall, yeah it’s a crazy story - could have been written in half the time - very repetitive - basically after reading a couple of short articles online you will understand this whole story. Seriously - tread Wikipedia onJo Lho and a few other players in the scheme and you’ll get all of the story without spending 12 hours of your life in it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • 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

23 of 29 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • 2019-06-21

Underwhelming

I was very excited to read this book after seeing it compared to Bad Blood, but ended up just grinding out hours to finish it.

The story is very interesting, but the players are mostly unfamiliar to me. I recognized the actors and artists involved, but still felt disconnected from the story. Granted, the actions are shocking, but it just didn’t resonate.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful