‘House Of Cards’ creator making television series about Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal and Jho Low

An adaptation of the 2018 book ‘Billion Dollar Whale’, the show will be produced by Michelle Yeoh

Beau Willimon, the creator of Netflix show House of Cards, is set to make a television series about Malaysia’s 1MDB finance scandal and businessman-turned-fugitive Jho Low.

The show will adapt Billion Dollar Whale, a book written by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope about the scandal. The 2018 book – full title Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World – chronicled the real-life misadventures of Low, who stands accused of helping orchestrate what is now known to be one of the biggest cases of financial fraud in history.

The as-yet-titled television series will be produced by Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh, while US playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly) has been tapped as writer and executive producer.


‘House Of Cards’ creator to adapt book based on Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal
Beau Willimon (left) and Michelle Yeoh (right). Credit: John Lamparski/Getty Images, Karwai Tang/WireImage.

1MDB was a state-owned investment fund set up in 2009 by former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, who was later jailed in 2020 for funneling over US$700 million from the fund into his personal bank accounts.

Low – who never held an official position in the company – is alleged to be the mastermind behind the financial scandal, which also involved Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs. The theft is estimated to have involved US$5billion and remains under investigation by authorities in Malaysia, Singapore, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the USA.

Notably, it was alleged that money stolen from the 1MDB fund was used by Low to finance Martin Scorsese’s 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street.

Last week, Malaysia’s Ministry of Home Affairs admitted in a statement that Low’s whereabouts are currently unknown. However, Al Jazeera reported last year that, according to unnamed sources, Low has been hiding in Macau since 2018.

The Billion Dollar Whale adaptation will be an independent venture between SK Global (co-financier of Crazy Rich Asians, Impetigore) and Willimon’s production company Westward.


“It’s hard to overstate the cultural impact of this story in Asia and around the world,” said SK Global’s John Penotti and Charlie Corwin, both serving as executive producers, via Variety.

“It’s both a tale of financial greed and deceit, and a darkly comedic social satire. We are excited to build on this talented team as we move forward.”

SK Global is also currently working on a Netflix limited series based on the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue incident of Thailand.