101 East

Malaysia: The World’s Biggest Heist

101 East investigates Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal and speaks with the accidental hero who blew the whistle.

It’s been branded the world’s biggest heist – between 2009 and 2014 at least $4.5bn was allegedly stolen from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB.

At the centre of the scandal are the former Prime Minister Najib Razak and the now-fugitive Malaysian financier and alleged mastermind of the scam, Jho Low.

Ousted from power last year, Najib now faces almost 40 criminal charges and Jho Low is wanted in Malaysia, Singapore and the United States.

The heist allegedly began soon after a joint venture deal was signed between 1MDB and a little-known company called PetroSaudi. Hundreds of millions were soon siphoned to a Swiss bank account controlled by Jho Low and then later, as alleged by the US Department of Justice, into Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts in Malaysia.

The world may never have known any of this if it hadn’t been for a disgruntled former PetroSaudi employee, Xavier Justo. He leaked more than 200,000 confidential emails containing evidence of alleged criminal activity to a British journalist, Clare Rewcastle Brown.

At least half-a-dozen criminal investigations into the misappropriation of billions of dollars from 1MDB are currently under way around the world and charges are being laid not only against the alleged conspirators, but also against executives from global financial institutions.

In this episode of 101 East, we investigate the deals and alleged criminal cover-ups that robbed Malaysia of billions of dollars and track down the accidental hero who blew the whistle.