Alternative Review of the Year. Investigative Journalists of the Year: US Department of Justice on 1MDB

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Euromoney, December 2016

We journalists do our best, but sometimes we have to applaud the work of others.

That was our response when the US Department of Justice launched its filing in July, nominally against “The Wolf of Wall Street Motion Picture”, but in truth covering the whole sprawling mess of the 1MDB scandal.

The 136-page document has everything. It has a New York penthouse and a Bombardier Jet (identified right down not only to its registration but the serial numbers on its Rolls Royce engines). It has Van Gogh artwork and incriminating emails from Malaysian financier Jho Low to Goldman executives that start with “Bro”.  More than anything, an elaborate and fabulously complicated story is narrated with remarkable professional zeal as cash flits from Malaysia to Swiss and Singaporean private banking accounts and to Saudi Arabian petroleum joint ventures.

Sometimes it feels like a Watergate report, such as when reading a verbatim transcript of a conversation between two Deutsche Bank staffers and an officer from 1MDB. The Deutsche guys try humbly to understand why $700 million is going to PetroSaudi: “This is where they want to send, they want to send to Timbuktu also, we don’t care,” says the 1MDB man.

Sometimes it feels like a James Bond movie: “The Venetian Casino used customer account number XXX4296 to identify Low. On or about July 10, 2012, $11,000,000 was deposited into Low’s account at the Venetian Casino, and records show that Low gambled there for approximately seven days.”

But mostly, it shows the most extraordinary forensic investigative skill, through 513 numbered paragraphs each packed with detail, account numbers, transfers, subsidiaries and unmasked deceit. It is signed off by “Robert B Heuchling, special agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

It is a work of art, agent Heuchling.

Full article: http://www.euromoney.com/Article/3648432/An-alternative-review-of-the-year-2016.html

Chris Wright
Chris Wright
Chris is a journalist specialising in business and financial journalism across Asia, Australia and the Middle East. He is Asia editor for Euromoney magazine and has written for publications including the Financial Times, Institutional Investor, Forbes, Asiamoney, the Australian Financial Review, Discovery Channel Magazine, Qantas: The Australian Way and BRW. He is the author of No More Worlds to Conquer, published by HarperCollins.

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