‘1MDB’ scandal’s insane story coming to Bangkok cinemas

Update: Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the movie screenings have been canceled.

Heard the accusations that the highest levels of Thai government helped Malaysia cover up its 1MDB scandal? Still not sure what a 1MDB is?

A critically acclaimed film that walks audiences through the massive financial crime that shook the world is coming to Bangkok’s independent cinemas later this month.

Directed by Sam Hobkinson and Havana Marking, The Kleptocrats (2018) follows law enforcement agents and journalists – including those from The New York Times and Wall Street Journal – chasing the story of the Malaysian wealth fund now known worldwide as 1MDB as the scandal unraveled. 

This is no boring, hard-to-follow story of spreadsheets and obscure transactions, but a riveting tale of brazen theft and jaw-dropping parties that involved some of the world’s most famous people.

It’s chronicled in journal reporter Tom Wright’s Billion Dollar Whale, a book that it’s author said was kept off of Thai shelves by the alleged mastermind of the whole affair, Malaysian financier Jho Low.

Jho Low’s time in Thailand – and charges the government helped shield his movements – make the film timely entertainment following Future Forward Party’s accusations late last month that the ruling junta, led by now-Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, conspired with Malaysian PM Najib Razak to cover his tracks. Najib is still on trial relating to his alleged role in siphoning millions of dollars in public money the find. 

The scandal made little splash in Thailand until Future Forward spokeswoman Pannika Wanich aired the accusations in parliament during a no-confidence debate, bringing it to national attention. She said Gen. Prayuth “formed a dark alliance” with Najib’s  government to lock up an executive-turned-whistleblower while he was visiting Koh Samui in 2015. 

That man, Xavier Justo, says he was pressured by Thai authorities into confessing that he was attempting to “extort” the Saudi Arabia-based oil and gas company he worked for by releasing data implicating them in the gargantuan graft. 

The Kleptocrats will show at Lido Connect and House Samyan starting March 19. More information will be announced on the Documentary Club’s Facebook page


Thai gov’t calls Future Forward’s 1MDB accusations ‘slander’

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