Wising up to a Billion Dollar Whale of a tale


 

Wising up to a whale of a tale

Once upon a time, Malaysians were enchanted with Jho Lows champagne lifestyle and proud that he had friends in high places. We now know better.

IF a poll was conducted to ask Malaysians to name their 10 most hated people, Low Taek Jho – also known as Jho Low – would surely be in the top five, if not three.

There has been a quick succession of books on the 1Malaysia Dev­elopment Bhd (1MDB) saga and in the one by two Wall Street Journal reporters, Billion Dollar Whale, Low is the central villainous character.

Yet for a brief shining moment, this man was the pride of his home state and the nation.

Then Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng was reported as saying that he was proud to note the accomplishments of overseas Pen­angites, including this particularly “well-connected” fellow.

That was back in July 2010 when a mysterious Malaysian man of means started hitting the headlines for partying with the likes of Paris Hilton, and counted actors Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio and singer Usher as his good friends.

When Hilton – the glamour party girl before the Kardashians overtook her – was detained by drug enforcement officers in Paris in 2010, she was reportedly travelling with “personalities close to power in Malay­sia”, Low being identified as one of them.

In just three months, his champagne-infused big spending ways – US$50,000 (RM206,800) or US$60,000 (RM248,190) a pop – set New York’s nightlife scene on fire and caught the attention of the US media. And that was how Low became famous.

Oh wait! He’s Malaysian, not some little emperor from Shanghai or Shen­zhen, so we puffed up with pride at the success of one of our own.

Somehow, the ability to party with the rich and famous became a yardstick for success. The assumption was that Low must have done something great to be so filthy rich and make such “friends”.

Low, then 28, became a subject of intense curiosity that Malaysian and foreign media wanted to know.

Then The Star landed an exclusive interview with him. The two hours with him provided enough fodder for stories spread over two days on July 29 and 30, 2010.

The interview covered topics like his Arab childhood friends and investors whom he said were the real big spenders, how he made his first million when he was just 20 and his expertise in setting up sovereign wealth funds.

Yes, we were pretty pleased with ourselves for beating the competition in getting Low to speak.

The interview was picked up by other newspapers and portals locally, regionally and internationally.

The Star took efforts to provide Low’s personal details like his age, birthplace, education and languages spoken.

What I also found amusing was that we also gave his height (1.7m) and his weight (88kg), which is not common for such interviews. That was probably our nice way of indicating how chubby he was.

The stories were positive pieces, painting Low as a successful role model. Of course, at that time, no one suspected that he was the mastermind behind the world’s biggest kleptocracy.

We were simply dazzled by his partying playboy high life and accepted in good faith all his claims on why he was successful: he went to the right schools, from Chung Ling to Wharton School of Business, made well-connected, influential friends (especially Arab royals) and got a great financial start.

As The Star reported: “At the age of 20, (he) started an investment company called The Wynton Group with US$25mil (RM103.4mil) from family and South-East Asian and Middle Eastern friends. The investment company in which he owns a stake is now worth in excess of US$1bil (RM4.1bil).”

Penang businessman Tan Sri Tan Kok Ping, a close family friend, described Low as a very bright person who respected his elders.

He was also “an active person, has a corporate brain and his public relations skills are equally good. He’s also quite a fast eater.

“I watched him grow up since he was a kid and I knew he was brilliant, but I never thought he would be so successful,” said Tan.

A reader who was so impressed by the Star exclusive blogged about his son having studied in Harrow in Bangkok and opined: “He (the son) is certainly no Jho Low, but I hope he can learn the positives from Jho’s life and work hard and be successful.”

Well, we now know better how Low operated and whose money he was spending on his celebrity friends and more.

From the man with the Midas touch, he has become the embarrassment no famous person wants to touch. I doubt Hilton or Usher takes his calls anymore. He is a fugitive on the lam, hunted by governments around the globe.

Much as he is furiously claiming innocence, he is indeed our billion-dollar whale. The whale is a metaphor in business, meaning to land large accounts that can transform a small company into a major player.

A whale can also mean a businessman who is close to a country’s regime, is protected by the state and receives government contracts and large bank loans without any collateral, as explained in the book, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty.

The maddening fact is this portly plunderer is hard to find. He apparently has multiple passports, including one from St Kitts and Nevis.

It’s very possible he is no longer 88kg. He could be thinner or fatter – depending on whether stress makes him eat even more and faster – or had plastic surgery, grown or lost his hair, but he should still be 1.7m tall, unless he wears hidden heels in his shoes.

Our government has said it is not sure where he’s hiding, but with Malaysians in just about every corner of the world, can we not somehow tap into this vast network? Even a whale must surface for air somehow, somewhere.

What really got my goat was what he glibly said in the Star interview: “Ultimately, I am Malaysian. I am one who does not forget my country and I think there is a lot we can do for Malaysia. But when you build the trust of investors, you need to deliver what you promised.

“For me, we all work very hard. Of course, we have a disadvantage where at our age, people may perceive it differently. At the end of the day, I handle investors’ money prudently. I generate returns for them.”

And this: “I am not an excessive person. Excessiveness with alcohol is just not me.”

No, not in alcohol but his name is now synonymous with excessiveness in luxury acquisitions.

Oh, where’s Capt Ahab when we need him?

Aunty wants to remind all of us that truly, all that glitters is not gold. Feedback to aunty@thestar.com.my

Credit:  June H. L Wong, So aunty, so what?

 

Related posts:

 

Let me be clear, I am innocent: Jho Low

 

Goldman Lunch at Taste Paradise Sets Table for 1MDB Money Probe

 

Malaysia can’t extradite Jho Low, key people in 1MDB saga

 

 

Related:

 

Advertisements

Revolutionising accounting for a new era


The field of accounting is in need of a new breed of professionals who can contribute more than a quantifiable value to companies.

 

Increasingly, accountants in business are given the opportunity to be less involved in automated operations and focus more on big picture strategies, which gives a clear indication of the type of skills required in the near future. Bryan Chung, FCPA

 

WHEN talking about the Industrial Revolution, images that often come to mind include the extensive use of steam power, the birth of heavy machinery and ironworks, and bleak factories in England.

However, two more industrial revolutions have since passed and the 21st century is paving its way for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0), which is seeing the rise of autonomous decision making of cyber-physical systems and machine learning through cloud technology.

In simple words, IR 4.0 is the usage of artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet to transform age-old processes and operating procedures across all industries.

With such change taking place, what does this mean for the accounting industry and where do accountants find their relevance in an era that looks to automate everything?

Calculating assets

In an interview with international education provider Kaplan, Malaysian Institute of Accountants’ (MIA) chief executive officer Dr Nurmazilah Datuk Mahzan said, “Among the current trends that are creating waves in the accountancy profession are big data and analytics.

“Companies of all sizes create massive structured, unstructured and semi-structured data every day. Organisations harnessing big data would be able to find new insights and discover unique patterns of their customer behaviour or even create new businesses that were previously not possible.”

Echoing her sentiments is Bryan Chung, Fellow of CPA Australia (FCPA), divisional councillor at CPA Australia (Malaysia), who believes that even though AI is good at matching patterns and automating processes – making technology useful to many functions in companies in the process – accountants still play a vital role.

He says, “While there is a lot of hype surrounding blockchain and AI in accountancy with more firms taking steps to increase or experiment with their use, it is unlikely that accountants (or auditors) will be out of a job anytime soon.

“It is likely that most of the administration process will be the first to be introduced to AI. Increasingly, accountants in business are given the opportunity to be less involved in automated operations and focus more on big-picture strategies, which gives a clear indication of the type of skills required in the near future.”

The challenge, however, is turning the current workforce in the accounting field into professionals who truly understand the implications of IR 4.0, not just in terms of their personal skills but also movements within the industry.


Discovering market potential

Gone are the days when sales numbers, website traffic and KPIs were sufficient information to measure monthly net profits.

In the same Kaplan interview, the organisation’s global professional accountancy head Tanya Worsley said, “Businesses today depend on their accountants beyond purely checking financial figures and balancing books.

“Financial professionals are expected to be able to provide their clients with actionable insights that can add value to the organisation’s overarching strategic goals.”

The changing role of accountants in the digital economy is what prompted MIA to launch the Digital Technology Blueprint in July this year, a document that outlines the five driving principles to help guide Malaysian accountants to respond appropriately to digital technology.

These principles are related to digital technology trends, the identification of capabilities, harnessing of digital technology, funding and governance.

Accountants who fail to stay updated with the latest trends and knowledge will cause their employers to lose out in the long run, while competing firms take advantage of the evolving cloud system.

For these reasons, upskilling and obtaining professional qualifications from MIA or accountancy bodies such as CPA Australia, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales or Chartered Institute of Management Accountants should be considered a necessity instead of mere steps for higher management.

As most professional accountancy bodies require members to undergo regular training to maintain their memberships, these certified professionals are expected to be fully prepared for IR 4.0 and, by and large, artificial intelligence experts.

Chung adds, “IT knowledge is no longer an option. Lest we aim erroneously, it is not how extensive the IT knowledge is (as this is available in abundance and can be acquired easily), but the ability to understand the evolution of the profession and apply the knowledge appropriately.”

Explaining that accountants must use technology in their favour to elevate companies to new heights, he gives the example of successful tech businesses that used e-platforms to achieve massive scalability and visibility within a short time, despite having owners or founders who were not IT graduates.

“In the same way, accountants should be more strategic, make sense of the vast data available and deliver services based on the twin pillars of speed and quality,” he continues.


Eliminating liabilities

When combining this piece of information with the future route of total automation for jobs that are repetitive, rule-based and involve limited or well-defined physicality, the traditional job scope of accountants is coming to an end.

Employers are bemoaning the skill gaps currently present in the knowledge of digital technologies, forcing companies to spend resources retraining and reskilling their employees.

At the other end of the spectrum, constant news reports highlight the more pressing issue of employers having difficulty finding good graduates who can hit the ground running upon entering the workforce.

These situations highlight the dire need for a new breed of accountants who can provide more all-inclusive corporate reporting, which tells less about the numbers and more about the narrative of a company.

The Malaysian education system, for one, must move towards becoming an ecosystem for continuous upgrading of skills, working together with employers, be they officials from the Government, small business entrepreneurs or industry experts from professional organisations.

Colleges and universities need to continue reviewing their course offerings so that graduates have an accurate understanding of the evolving industry while being trained to adapt to new technologies and autonomous changes at the workplace.

However, it is not all doom and gloom. Chung points out, “There are now many initiatives being undertaken by various professional organisations and associations to provide education to accountants to increase awareness of the changes taking place.

“There are efforts now by professional bodies, corporates and academia to come together to address the disconnect between what’s being studied at universities and what’s relevant in the business world.”

Given how the financial technology space has demonstrated the willingness of companies to use innovative methods, Chung is optimistic about the future as the accounting profession can not only make positive inroads but ride on the back of this momentum to accelerate the learning and adoption of technologies as the nation moves into a new era of automation.

Credit: Bryan Chung, FCPA

 

Related posts:

 

Probe on ‘Big 2’ accouting firms: KPMG and Deloitte still on over 1MDB accounts

Regulators act on complaints: MIA to name and shame errant professionals

Tariffs won’t make US firms produce in US


“It would not be profitable to build the Focus Active in the U.S. given an expected annual sales volume of fewer than 50,000 units,” automaker Ford Motor Company said in a statement on Sunday.

US President Donald Trump tweeted earlier on Sunday that “‘Ford has abruptly killed a plan to sell a Chinese-made small vehicle in the US because of the prospect of higher US Tariffs.’ CNBC. This is just the beginning. This car can now be built in the USA and Ford will pay no tariffs!” Ford quickly clarified the facts, evidently rebuffing Trump’s tweet.

Likewise, tech giant Apple Inc. wrote a letter to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, saying that a proposed 25 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese imports would cover a “wide range of Apple products.”

In another tweet, Trump told Apple to make their products in the US instead of China. Apple hasn’t responded.

According to the US media, the price of iPhone may increase to $2,000 if the company does as told.

The multinational companies that produce automobile and mobile phones have different manufacturing and sales layouts. Car manufacturers tend to produce their products where they are sold, while mobile phone manufacturers optimize their production chain costs worldwide. That’s the natural law of economic globalization which can’t be easily changed by a country’s government.

The White House lacks understanding of the global production and value chains. “Make your products in the United States instead of China” seems naive. Instead of coercing companies to follow demands, imposing tariffs will only scare them off.

Simply making US companies produce in the US can’t deal with the complicated global industry today. We have also learnt from history that neither side will gain in a trade war.

China is the world’s largest automobile and mobile phone market. Setting tariff barriers between Beijing and Washington won’t make US companies give up on China for the sake of their own country. As long as China doesn’t make things hard for US companies, it’s unavoidable that they will place production operations in China. The Chinese market can help them make money, but the White House can’t.

Most American high-tech companies will face difficulties if they leave China. The larger the market is, the higher return the companies will get from their research and development. High-tech companies, if they can’t grow to be giant, don’t usually survive for long, and it would be fatal for many of them to lose the Chinese market.

There hasn’t been a previous US government that dares to instruct multinational companies in production layouts, and the current administration has overestimated its executive power. The global industrial chain today is formed by market rules established over decades and can’t be easily changed by one government.

It would be the White House’s dream to expect that the US is not only the world’s technology and financial center, but also the world’s factory that sells its products globally. If the US doesn’t want to wake up from this dream, then the outside world has to step in and rouse Washington.

Source:Global Times

Related:

 

Trade data shows US economy rejects trade war

The decline in trade will affect both China and the US. It is not only China that will bear the consequences.

 

China cool to Australia’s contradictory policy

China should give up the illusion of persuading Australia to stop containing China together with the US. Instead Beijing should let Canberra calm down and rethink.

 

China-Africa cooperation charts a new path of mutual benefits

The Chinese people must cherish what the country has earned them. China has no alternative but to continue to learn how to deal with the world in the 21st century.

 

Xi’s China-Africa guidelines are the keys to the new global paradigm

The “five-no” and “four-can’t” are truly inspiring. They correct the concepts of rights and point to the justice of the day. President Xi’s points will definitely leave a deep mark on the history of relations between the African continent and China, and the entire world.

 

West’s sour grapes at China-Africa cooperation

The possibility of the West leading the collaboration with the continent again always exists as long as they do not get their heads jammed by a geopolitical mind-set.

 

China-N.Korea friendship benefits whole region

The US, South Korea and Japan must clarify what exactly they want on the Korean  Peninsula. They cannot have everything, especially things that contradict each other. If the US wishes for denuclearization and peace on the peninsula, it would see the value of China-North Korea ties and support them.

Blockchain Festival & Conference Week, Kuala Lumpur 26~27 Sept 2018


BLOCFEST www.blocfest.asia

SOUTHEAST ASIA’S INTERNATIONAL BLOCKCHAIN EVENT

Blockchain and beyond

Brothers Hway (left) and Tze-Co say networking will be a big part of the Blocfest conference. — ART CHEN/The Star

Educate yourself on blockchain technology which is transforming businesses around the globe.

What began as an experiment in buying Bitcoin for a holiday led two brothers to explore blockchain technology and eventually organise a blockchain conference – Blocfest 2018 – which will feature more than 30 ­international speakers.

Gwei Tze-Co, 49, started investing in Bitcoin four years ago, ahead of a trip to Brazil to attend the 2014 World Cup.

“I was planning to go to Argentina after the World Cup and read that the currency situation was so bad there that you could use Bitcoin instead. I bought some but didn’t end up using it,” he says.

But that initial investment got him hooked on blockchain and cryptocurrency, especially Ethereum.

Meanwhile, Gwei Hway, 43, who is a ­programmer and has worked in tech firms for the last 20 years, was drawn to ­blockchain and cryptocurrency because of his brother’s fascination for them.

Tze-Co says in Malaysia blockchain is still an emerging technology though a few good projects by local founders have been launched.

“However, lots of people just use blockchain and cryptocurrency for hype. To put it bluntly, there’s a lot of scams and many Malaysians are falling for them,” he says.

He says that a conference with legitimate speakers sharing their experience could go a long way in educating people on how blockchain can make a difference in their businesses.

He adds that once a person better understands blockchain technology and especially how it’s used in business, it will be easier for him or her to identify the fake ones.

This is one of the reasons the brothers are organising Blocfest through their company, Blockchain Asia Sdn Bhd, which is scheduled to take place at the Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, on Sept 26 and 27.

The two-day conference will focus on the potential of blockchain technology in South-East Asia and feature speakers from various ­backgrounds, including ­blockchain entrepreneurs, developers, global investors, academics and ­enthusiasts.

Discussions at the conference will be divided into three streams – Regulatory, Academic and Enterprise.

Regulatory will help you understand the current regulatory landscape and what’s in store in the future for blockchain; Academy will tackle academic concepts and their impact on blockchain; and Enterprise will highlight technological aspects of blockchain and potential use-case scenarios.

Hway expects half the attendees to come from enterprises which aren’t too familiar with blockchain technology but are exploring how it could be relevant to them, while the remaining will be investors, academics and experts in the field.

“Networking is definitely a big part of the conference, and as many solution providers will be present in the exhibition halls, we expect a lot of companies to ink deals or find partnerships,” he says.

Joining the conversation will be ­regulators from countries that have begun to explore the issue, including Taiwanese Member of Parliament Jason Hsu, better known as the Crypto Congressman due to his staunch ­support for the technology, and a ­representative from the Philippines’ Cagayan Economic Zone Authority which spearheads the country’s financial ­technology efforts.

Tze-Co says there have been talks to get Malaysian regulators to ­participate and share their thoughts on the laws required to facilitate blockchain in Malaysia but the discussion is ongoing.

Other key speakers that will be at Blocfest are cryptofinance ­platform Fusion’s founder Dejun Qian, blockchain veteran and ProximaX Ltd founder Lon Wong, anti-counterfeit system Wabi’s CEO Alexander Busarov, and dating marketplace Viola.AI’s CEO Violet Lim.

In addition to Blocfest, ­attendees can also take part in several other events during the KL Blockchain Week, which will be held between Sept 24 and 27, including a ­hackathon.

Those interested in attending Blocfest can get 40% off VIP ­tickets priced at US$450 (RM1,860) or normal ­tickets priced at US$375 (RM1,550) by keying in the promo code BLOC40D ­during checkout but this offer is only ­available for a limited time. Visit www.blocfest.asia for more ­information.

Credit:Qishin Tariq The Star online

Related:

 

Penang lacks quality manpower and talent shortage

 

Citigroup plans safer way to trade cryptocurrencies by issuing receipts

 

Related posts:

BLOCKCHAIN beyond Bitcoin

What is Blockchain Technology, its uses and applications?

 

From Industrial 4.0 to Finance 4.0

 

Bitcoin, digital currencies rally, caution prevails; virtual currency in property

 

Jack Ma Embraces Blockchain for Ant But Warns of Bitcoin Bubble

China to build world-leading national laboratory for quantum information sciences



Image may contain: outdoor

No automatic alt text available.

Image may contain: night

China is planning to build a massive 100-billion-yuan national laboratory for #quantum information sciences, in order to establish itself as a leader in quantum information sciences.

The National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences, which will be spread across Shanghai and Beijing and cities in Anhui province, will focus on the frontier science and key technology of the second quantum revolution, and develop strategic emerging industries covering quantum communication, computation, and precision measurement, so as to become a pioneer in the global competition and future  development of QIS, news portal CBN reported.
The information was revealed at the 2018 International Conference on Quantum Cryptography in Shanghai in August.  The project has allegedly received 2 billion yuan in financial support from the city of Shanghai and Anhui province.
The conference marked the first time for China to hold such an influential international academic event in the field of quantum cryptography, boosting the development of the country’s quantum communications network.
QIS can further improve information security, computing speed, and measurement accuracy, as so to provide core strategic power for national security and sustainable development.
China has been leading the global quantum revolution after the successful launch of
the Quantum Experiments at Space Scale, the world’s first quantum satellite, and the construction of the 2,000-kilometer Beijing-Shanghai quantum communication line.The market volume of China’s quantum communication industry reached 18 billion yuan in 2017, and is expected to reach 32 billion yuan in 2018, with a year-on-year increase of 77.78%, according to data from Qianzhan Industry Research Institute, the
most influential industry research and innovation consulting brand in China.

People’s Daily, China

Related posts:

Chinese scientists make quantum leap in computing; jumbo passenger jet C919 liftoff !

Chinese leading quantum physicist Pan Jianwei, an academician of the Chinese
Academy of Sciences, and his colleagues announced they have built world’s first quantum computing machine at a press conference in the Shanghai Institute for Advanced Studies of University of Science and Technology of China on Wednesday. — People’s Daily

 

China successfully launched world’s first quantum communication satellite ‘very exciting’ !

 

Chinese quantum satellite to protect China from cyber attacks

Quantum Computing Thrives on Chaos

New round of China US tariffs & The Art of War on current events


 

 

Wisdom of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War on current events

China’s military wisdom: Sun Tzu’s The Art of War

Probe on ‘Big 2’ accouting firms: KPMG and Deloitte still on over 1MDB accounts


 

 

KPMG and Deloitte being investigated over 1MDB accounts

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) is investigating KPMG and Deloitte, the two accounting firms involved in signing off the accounts of the controversial 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

The investigations are on whether the auditors in question who handled the accounts had breached the Accountants Act when signing off 1MDB’s accounts between 2009 and 2014.

The MIA has the power to regulate the accounting profession in Malaysia.

“There are complaints lodged against KPMG and Deloitte and we are investigating the auditors in question. The complaints are on the auditors and it is ongoing,” MIA’s chief executive officer Nurmazilah Mahzan told StarBiz in an interview.

Nurmazilah said it could not be determined at this stage when the investigations would be completed.

“The results of the investigations will be studied by a committee. The process is continuing but we have not got the final verdict yet. We cannot predict how long it will take at this point in time. If the auditors are found guilty or if there is a basis to these complaints then we have to wait for the judgement of the disciplinary committee,” she added.

MIA’s executive director for surveillance and enforcement Datuk Muhammad Redzuan Abdullah said the investigations were at the disciplinary committee level now and investigations had started since mid-2016.

The scandal-riddled 1MDB that had accumulated debts of RM42bil over the five years between 2009 and 2014, has had four auditors since its inception. They are Parker Randall, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Deloitte.

1MDB appointed Ernst & Young as its auditor when it was set up in mid-2009. However Ernst & Young resigned in 2010 without signing off the accounts of the fund that was set up by the previous government headed by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

KPMG stepped in to take over from Ernst & Young and signed off the accounts for the financial years ended March 31 in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The accounts were signed off without any qualification from the auditors.

Deloitte took over the auditing in December 2013 after 1MDB contended that KPMG could not “conclude” its 2013 accounts.

1MDB had also said in May 2015 that Deloitte had signed off 1MDB’s accounts for 2013 and 2014. When questions arose as to why KPMG could not conclude the accounts for 2013, 1MDB stated in 2015 that Deloitte had signed off the accounts without any qualification.

Nevertheless, resignations by Ernst & Young and KPMG as auditors then had raised questions over the fund. In the accounting world, a firm rarely leaves a job half-done, especially more so when it involves big and prominent clients such as 1MDB.

After KPMG left, 1MDB obtained an extension of six months to submit its accounts for end-March 2013.

It was reported then that KPMG had relinquished its role as auditor. Deloitte then came in and managed to close the books within the extended period of six months.

Earlier reports quoting sources said the primary reason why KPMG could not give an opinion on 1MDB’s accounts was because it was not able to make a fair assessment of the value of the assets backing the fund’s US$2.3bil investment placed with a Hong Kong-based asset management company.

Subsequently Deloitte managed to complete the books wherein the fair value of the investments was put at RM7.18bil based on the assessment done by a third party engaged by the fund administrator.

Recent reports said KPMG which had then signed off on three unqualified audit reports for 1MDB, had informed its board of directors that the audited financial statements did not reflect a true and fair view of the company.

It was also reported that Deloitte in 2016 also said its audit reports on 1MDB’s financial statements issued on March 28, 2014, and Nov 5, 2014, for the financial years ending 2013 and 2014 should no longer be relied upon.

Credit: Daniel Khoo The Staronline

 

Related:

%d bloggers like this: