‘Billion Dollar Whale’ book being adapted for TV series, produced by ‘House of Cards’ creator Beau Willimon

‘Billion Dollar Whale’ was written by two award-winning Wall Street Journal journalists Tom Wright (pic) and Bradley Hope and focused on the role of the flamboyant Low Taek Jho whom US prosecutors allege to be the mastermind of the biggest heist of the century worth US$5 billion from 1MDB. ― Picture by Ham Abu Bakar
‘Billion Dollar Whale’ was written by two award-winning Wall Street Journal journalists Tom Wright (pic) and Bradley Hope and focused on the role of the flamboyant Low Taek Jho whom US prosecutors allege to be the mastermind of the biggest heist of the century worth US$5 billion from 1MDB. ― Picture by Ham Abu Bakar

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — A television series about Penang-born businessman Jho Low and the 1MDB scandal, based on the bestselling book Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World, is currently being developed for production.

According to US entertainment website The Hollywood Reporter, the TV series is being produced by showrunner Beau Willimon who made the American political thriller House Of Cards, and his Westward producing partner Jordan Tappis. 

The duo have also teamed up with SK Global, which co-funded “Crazy Rich Asians” for this.

Tony Award-winning M. Butterfly playwright David Henry Hwang is said to be writing this adaptation.

He is also named as its executive producer while both SK Global and Westward will finance and oversee all stages of development and production.

SK Global’s John Penotti, Charlie Corwin and Marcy Ross will serve as executive producers alongside Willimon and Tappis. 

Famed Malaysian actress Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh is also named as a producer for this series.

“At Westward we are drawn to stories that reflect the complexity of the times we live in, centring on enigmatic and surprising characters. 

“We’re also drawn to developing innovative ways to produce work in a quickly shifting entertainment landscape. 

“With David Henry Hwang at the helm, and SK Global at our side, this project allows us to do both. We’re thrilled to be able to bring this incredible story to life for a global audience,” Willimon and Tappis said in a joint statement.

“It’s hard to overstate the cultural impact of this story in Asia and around the world. It’s both a tale of financial greed and deceit, and a darkly comedic social satire,” Penotti and Corwin added.

Billion Dollar Whale was written by two award-winning Wall Street Journal journalists Tom Wright and Bradley Hope and focused on the role of the flamboyant Low ― whose real name is Low Taek Jho ― whom US prosecutors allege to be the mastermind of the biggest heist of the century worth US$5 billion from the Malaysian sovereign investment fund.

Published and named Financial Times Best Book of 2018, Billion Dollar Whale also delves into the complex web tying the world’s elite families, global banking, the world politics both Malaysia’s and internationally, and Hollywood.

The estimated US$5 billion theft ranks among the biggest cases of fraud in history. It remains under investigation by authorities in Malaysia, Singapore, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the United States.

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is currently on trial in Malaysia for his role in the scandal. 

He has already been found guilty of multiple counts of corruption and criminal wrongdoing in usurping RM42 million from SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former 1MDB subsidiary and sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined RM210 million. 

The Court of Appeal in Putrajaya is scheduled to deliver its verdict on his appeal against the SRC International conviction on December 8.

* A previous version of this story contained an error which has since been corrected.

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