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Documentary about 1MDB scandal, The Kleptocrats, follows the money trail

By Say Peng  /  08 Oct 2019 (Tuesday)

Probably the biggest white-collar scandal in modern Asian, and probably the world, history, the 1MDB scandal, with its glamorous connections to Hollywood and the New York part scene, was a shocking revelation to the world, especially those of us living in Southeast Asia.

Directed by veteran documentary filmmakers Havana Marking and Sam Hobkinson, The Kleptocrats follows investigative journalists from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Hollywood Reporter as they seek to figure out how a US$3.5 billion Malaysian sovereign wealth fund called 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad) has been siphoned off to fund the lavish and glamorous lifestyle of Malaysian baby-faced scion Jho Low as well as financing Martin Scorsese's Wolf of Wall Street up to a tune of US$90-100 million.

Currently a fugitive, Low is the scion of a wealthy Malaysian Chinese family who has businesses in the iron-ore mining and liquor distilleries industries. Low's father ran an investment holding company.

When Low was young, he studied in Penang before his father sent him to the elite Harrow School in London, where his classmates were the children of the rich and powerful. 

One of them was Riza Aziz, the stepson of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. 

When Najib Razak became President of the board of advisers for 1MDB, Low started to get involved in 1MDB, providing consultancy services.

Low got himself more and more involved in 1MDB and started to personally manage the money, siphoning approximately US$5 billion and using the money to throw multi-million dollar parties, buying millions worth of gifts, jewellery, fine art for his celebrity friends (supermodel Miranda Kerr, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kim Kardashian, amongst them).

The ultimate irony is when Low and Aziz invested US$90-100 million into Martin Scorsese's Wolf of Wall Street, based on the memoir of Jordan Belfort, the former stockbroker who swindled about US$100 million from his clients.

Think of The Kleptocrats as the film version of the book Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood and the World.

Watch The Kleptocrats at The Projector from 17 October.

You can buy your tickets here: http://theprojector.sg/filmsandevents/kleptocrats/
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