‘Crazy Rich Asians’ producers nab film rights for ‘Billion Dollar Whale’
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‘Crazy Rich Asians’ producers nab film rights for ‘Billion Dollar Whale’

THE Hollywood production company that released box-office hit Crazy Rich Asians on Friday secured film rights to bring a book about Malaysia’s multibillion-dollar state fund scandal on the big screen.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, SK Global’s Ivanhoe label, which co-financed and co-produced Crazy Rich Asians, will be producing the film based on “Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood and the World”, a recently released non-fiction book about the massive 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) case that ensnared Hollywood A-listers like Leonardo Dicaprio.

The book, written by Wall Street Journal reporters Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, centres around the scandal’s alleged mastermind Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, a Malaysian businessman who is said to be the mastermind behind the scandal.

SEE ALSO: The billion-dollar book sale: Malaysians show support for 1MDB chronicle 

“Tom and Bradley have crafted a thoroughly compelling telling of this unbelievable story. While certainly a daring work of investigative journalism, the narrative thread and eclectic characters that they so diligently chronicle make the book read like a thrilling and engrossing novel,” SK Global president John Penotti was quoted as saying

“We are very proud to be associated with this project and anticipate moving forward very quickly to production.”

Film actress Michelle Yeoh, who starred in the US$200 million grossing Crazy Rich Asians will also be co-producing Billion Dollar Whale, according to the New Straits Times.

Wright said both he and hope were “thrilled to be partnering with SK Global to bring the incredible story of Jho Low, a modern-day Gatsby, to the screen.”

Despite the hype, several prominent Malaysians and other individuals have detested Yeoh’s role in the move as she was a known supporter of the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government under former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is also entangled in the scandal.


Co-author of Billion Dollar Whale, Tom Wright, at the book’s launch in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. September 25, 2018. Source: Asian Correspondent.

The US Department of Justice said the Malaysian businessman previously gave the Dicaprio Picasso Basquiat Paintings, and Marlon Brando’s Oscar statuette. Low also gifted Miranda Kerr with US$8 million in diamond jewellery, which were surrendered to department officials.

Low is reportedly a close associate of ousted Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is currently facing a slew of charges relating to money laundering and abuse of power related to 1MDB.

SEE ALSO: 1MDB scandal: After seizing superyacht, Malaysia eyes custody of private jet 

1MDB has been a focus of investigations in at least six countries, including the United States, but Najib has denied any wrong-doing.

In May, a shock election result upended Malaysia’s political order in which the Barisan Nasional coalition led by Najib was — for the first time since its independence from colonial rule in 1957 — replaced by a new government under former mentor-turned-foe Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Shortly after taking office, Dr Mahathir’s administration had reopened investigations into the scandal which led to Najib’s arrest in July.

Low has earlier claimed he had little or nothing to do with 1MDB, but investigators believe he was the financier and person who laundered money through various shell companies in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands, among others.