Books and Culture

Bill Gates recommends this 'thrilling' book about corruption in finance

Bill Gates, billionaire and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, March 26, 2015.
Bloomberg | Getty

Billionaire Bill Gates is famously known as a bookworm, and often praises titles with themes of hope and enlightenment. But his latest reading recommendation is a tale of corruption.

When asked for a book recommendation by CNN's Fareed Zakaria in a recently aired interview, Gates suggested "Billion Dollar Whale" by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope.

"It's a sad story of corruption in international finance, but fascinating. As 'Bad Blood' is to biotech, 'Billion Dollar Whale' is to international finance," Gates says. "Bad Blood" by John Carreyrou, which Gates previously recommended, chronicles the rise and fall of blood-testing start-up Theranos.

"Not as profound as [Steven] Pinker, [Paul] Scharre, [Hans] Rosling," Gates admits, ticking off other authors that he's recommended in the past. "But a wonderful read, very quick, thrilling."

"Billion Dollar Whale: The Man who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood and the World," was released in September and tells the story of Malaysian businessman Jho Low, who CNBC previously described as being, "the mastermind of a multi-billion dollar financial scandal that involves a complex web of offshore shell companies, A-list celebrities, the Middle East and Wall Street."

For years, investigators have been digging into how funds were stolen from Malaysian state investment vehicle, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, and used for lavish purchases including international real estate, super-yachts and to finance Hollywood movies. Low — the alleged fraudulent financier — is to believed to have controlled that capital, CNBC previously reported.

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While Low has denied any wrongdoing, according to a Reuters report, he remains a central figure in the alleged theft of around $4.5 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, and remains a fugitive. In December, he was slapped with fresh criminal charges.

"Billion Dollar Whale" has not only received praise from Gates, but was also named the best book of 2018 by the Financial Times and Fortune. The book touts 167 customer reviews on Amazon, with an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.

"If you've ever suspected there was something rotten behind the lavish way some people live, here's your proof," one Amazon review reads. "Lots of books about corruption tell you how or how much money was stolen. This one also shows you exactly what was done with it — paying for ridiculous amounts of champagne, a gross movie glorifying a testerone-fueled swindler, and a pop star to jump out of a birthday cake — instead of what should've been done."

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