'Billion Dollar Whale' Film Rights Nabbed by SK Global

Billion Dollar Whale - Book Cover - H 2018
Hachette Books

Michelle Yeoh will produce the Malaysian money scandal project under her new deal with Ivanhoe Pictures.

SK Global, fresh from its box-office hit with Crazy Rich Asians, has nabbed the film rights to the exposé Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood and the World.

The book, written by Wall Street Journal reporters Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, recounts a massive U.S. fraud case that ensnared Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio after a wannabe infiltrated his inner circle. Billion Dollar Whale provides an inside account of Malaysia's 1MDB money-laundering scandal and a nexus of elite wealth, banking, Hollywood and politics.

Now under investigation by authorities in Malaysia, Singapore, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the U.S. Department of Justice, the theft — estimated at $5 billion — ranks among the biggest cases of fraud in history. The book centers on Jho Low, the heist's alleged mastermind, who remains an international fugitive.

DiCaprio's connection to the 1MDB scandal dates back to October 2009 and his relationship with Low.

"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 said in a statement.

"We are very proud to be associated with this project and anticipate moving forward very quickly to production," he added. SK Global's Ivanhoe label co-financed and co-produced the Warner Bros. film Crazy Rich Asians. Ivanhoe also premiered its Mandarin-language film Cities of Last Things at the Toronto Film Festival.

Its sister company, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, also produced and financed Greta, a new thriller from director Neil Jordan, starring Isabelle Huppert, Chloe Grace Moretz and Maika Monroe.