PETALING JAYA: The leaked version of the Billion Dollar Whale book on how fugitive businessman Jho Low had allegedly played a role in the 1MDB scandal is making its rounds on social media.
The 306-page e-book, in Portable Document Format (PDF) version, has been making its round via WhatsApp in Malaysia and Singapore since Thursday evening. It was rapidly shared among users.
The book, which is written by Wall Street Journal’s Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, talks about the purported role played by Low, also known as Low Taek Jho, in what is claimed to be one of the biggest heists in global financial history.
The printed copy is available at bookstores in Malaysia and Singapore.
The book is priced at RM79.90 in Malaysia and S$29.90 in Singapore.
It is learnt that MPH customers in both countries who pre-ordered the book had cancelled their orders after they found the leaked copy.
Wright has cautioned against forwarding the leaked copy.
“If you have received an illegal galley copy of Billion Dollar Whale, please tell the person sending it to you that Hachette (publishing company) will take legal action against them. The copy has an embedded digital footprint,” Wright said in a WhatsApp message to The Star.
Singapore-based former book publisher John Francis said the leak would have a big effect on the sales of the book.
“Some of my friends who had asked MPH to reserve their copies cancelled the orders.
“It is wrong to secure the leaked version, which is akin to pirating copy.
“But there is no way to stop people from going for free stuff,” he said.
Francis said readers should respect the intellectual property and copyrights of the book and its authors.
He said it was a norm to find a leaked copy of any books prior to its release in the market, which is a preview copy with almost no amendments, if it was expected to be a big hit among the readers.
Meanwhile, Low had also attempted to block the book from being distributed globally, reported British newspaper The Guardian.
London-based lawyers representing him had also threatened to take libel actions against bookstores and their websites for selling, promoting, publishing a synopsis and reviewing the book.
The Guardian reported that the law firm, Schillings, wrote to one bookseller saying that it was “astonishing” that the shop had published a description of the book on its website, and warned that it was “now on notice that serious defamatory material is likely to be contained in the subject book”.
Schillings also reportedly demanded individual booksellers to provide a commitment in writing never to sell the book, detail proposals for compensating Jho Low for the publication of the synopsis, and provide “reimbursement of his legal costs”.
The firm also told booksellers that if they did not receive a response then they would have no choice but to commence legal proceedings against their bookshops.
The law firm also threatened to sue the publishers of the book for substantial damages on the basis that it assumed the book would repeat “defamatory accusations” previously made against Low.
As Low’s lawyers try to prevent the distribution and sales of the book, the Malaysian government filed criminal charges against the financier and his father.
The police on Friday also announced that they are investigating more than 50 individuals suspected of links to the multi-billion dollar looting of the 1MDB state investment fund.
At the same time, 12 other nations in Europe and Asia are also investigating and charging those linked to the scandal.