American comedian Hasan Minhaj has been garnering worldwide attention with his educational comedy series on Netflix, ‘The Patriot Act‘, where he breaks down complex world issues in an effort to raise public awareness.
In his latest episode, Minhaj explained the role of American investment bank Goldman Sachs in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, and brought up that infamous businessman connected to the 1MDB scandal, Low Taek Jho (aka Jho Low), saying,
“1MDB didn’t even exist until this guy came into the picture. He was this 27-year-old Malaysian financier. This gulab jamun with glasses got connected with Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak. Look at this, he somehow convinced the prime minister of the country to set up a sovereign wealth fund.”
“Jho Low claimed 1MDB was supposed to help Malaysia build infrastructure and increase development and investors bought his sales pitch.”
Minhaj then played clips of Jho Low partying with Paris Hilton, explaining that the businessman allegedly blew this money on extravagant things, like a birthday party featuring artists like Psy, Pharrell, and Chris Brown as performers, a clear piano for Miranda Kerr, and even financed the award-winning movie ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
“Now you’re probably wondering how on Earth did the Prime Minister of Malaysia and the kid from ‘Up‘ pull this off? They hired Goldman Sachs.”
The comedian then explained how the bank used its reputation to make 1MDB “appear more legit than they actually were”. He said,
“To make their power plant deals look better, Goldman Sachs used their credibility and paired 1MDB up with Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), which had USD$70 billion in assets and solid credit.”
He then went on to explain how Low allegedly siphoned off USD$1.4 billion (approx RM5.9 billion) out of the USD$6.5 billion (approx RM27.2 billion) Goldman raised for 1MDB into a shell company, which was allegedly used to pay off everyone who helped. Goldman, meanwhile, received USD$600 million (RM2.7 billion) in fees and revenue. He added,
“But reporters say that USD$600 million is 200 times what they would normally make on a deal that size. Clearly, something shady is going on here. Goldman used their expertise to raise the money for 1MDB and use their reputation to make this scheme look legit.”
“Prime Minister Najib did everything he could to cover this up. He cracked down on reporters, he fired officials investigating him, he even threw a concert with Psy to rally support for his political party, BN (Barisan Nasional).”
“In the end, the scandal brought down Najib’s entire government and he was arrested.”
Concluding his episode, Minhaj said that since this case surfaced, Goldman has doubled down on sovereign wealth funds, and noted that deals like these would keep happening as long as sovereign wealth funds are not subject to regulation.
“Sovereign wealth funds aren’t inherently bad, but in the wrong hands, they can do massive damage. That’s why a criminal case against Goldman Sachs could be so important.”
“It could help set a precedent about how much we scrutinise these vast pools of money with little to no regulation. Until that changes, there are going to be more 1MDBs and even more Jho Lows.”
“Jho Low, if you’re watching, if you turn yourself in, there’s one thing I can get you – the biggest and wildest Psy concert you’ve ever seen.”
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Also read: Najib’s Lawyer: My Client is Innocent & Only a Victim of Jho Low’s Conspiracy