When you have made it to the top and you’ve got everything you have ever wanted, it’s hard to fathom how painful the fall back down to the bottom can be. But that’s exactly what happened to the five billionaires listed below. They worked to become some of the richest people in the entire world, only to have it all come crashing down. Some of these former billionaires garnered their money illegally and were forced to pay the price of their actions, literally. Others became one of the many victims of the everlasting financial crisis that began in 2008. This global, economic meltdown affected the rich, the poor, and everyone in between. Even still, it’s hard to believe that these billionaires went from the richest of the rich, to completely broke. Below is a list of five billionaires who lost everything. Their fall from the top was hard, fast and entirely unexpected.
5. Alberto Vilar
In 1979, with his business partner Gary Tanaka, Alberto Vilar co-founded the investment firm, Amerindo. At its height, the company was worth an estimated $1 billion dollars. Unfortunately, Vilar’s company was hit hard by the stock market crash of 2000. Although his fortune was dwindling, he had bigger problems on his mind. In 2008, Vilar was convicted of money laundering, investment advisory fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud and securities fraud. Vilar was a big fan of the arts and had always made generous donations to opera companies and other performing art organizations. But apparently, these donations weren’t as generous as once thought. Vilar had been using some of the money that he and his partner stole, in order to meet his philanthropic quota. On February 5, 2010, Vilar was sentenced to nine years in prison, while his partner was sentenced to five. In 2012, the pair was released on bail pending their appeal. Unfortunately for Vilar, his re-sentencing didn’t go much better than the first time around, he was sentenced to ten years in prison, instead of the original nine-year sentence.
4. Sean Quinn
In 2008, Sean Quinn was known as the richest person in Ireland, with an estimated net worth of $6 billion. However in 2011, Sean Quinn filed for bankruptcy. Sean Quinn was the proud owner of the Quinn Group, a company that was estimated to be worth between €4 billion and €5 billion in November 2005. In 2008, the Quinn’s family’s net worth took a major hit and Sean Quinn was replaced by Denis O’Brien, as the wealthiest person in Ireland. From there, things only got worse for the Quinn family. The Anglo Irish bank, which held €2.8 billion of the family’s wealth, nearly collapsed, slashing the family’s previous net worth. Then in 2008, Quinn insurance was fined a record €3.25 million by the Financial Regulator in the Republic of Ireland because of loans issued from Quinn insurance. Everything seemed to be going wrong for the Quinn family during this time, they were faced with multiple court cases as their once massive fortune continued to dwindle. On January 16, 2012, Quinn was declared bankrupt in the Republic of Ireland. On November 2, 2012, Quinn was sentenced to nine weeks in jail as a result of non-co-operation with the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation and continued asset stripping.
3. Eike Batista
Eike Batista made his fortune as a Brazilian business magnate in mining, oil and gas exploration. He is presently the chairman of Brazilian conglomerate EBX Group, but that doesn’t mean that his financial situation is back on track. In 2012, Batista was worth an estimated $30 billion, making him the seventh richest person in the world and the wealthiest person in Brazil. Just one year later, Batista’s net worth had dropped dramatically to $200 million and falling. In January 2014, it was reported that Batista had a negative net worth. In 2013, Bloomberg news reported Batista’s losses to be, “historic.” His economic downfall can be attributed to the downturn in the precious mining industry, the collapse of Batista’s OGX and other economic issues and management decisions. In fact, Batista’s wealth has decreased over 100% between March 2012 and January 2014, making his economic downfall one of the worst the world has ever seen. Batista has recently said that he is planning on fulfilling his debt obligations and that he will leave no creditor unpaid.
2. Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson
Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson was once the chairman and owner of West Ham United FC, making him Iceland’s second wealthiest businessman (his son was the first). At this time, his net worth was estimated to be about $1.1 billion and he was ranked as the 1014th richest person in the world by Forbes magazine. Unfortunately, later that same year, Forbes revalued his total net worth at a grand total of $0. Both Gudmundsson and his son were hit hard by the financial crisis in Iceland. Gudmundsson has said that the cause of his financial disaster can be attributed to his previous involvement in illegal activities such as fraud and embezzlement, for which he served 12 months in prison. In July 2009, the Icelandic courts declared Gudmundsson bankrupt. His debts amounted to almost £500 million.
1. Allen Stanford
Allen Stanford was once the chairman of the Stanford Financial Group. The former billionaire is now serving a 110-year prison sentence at the United States Penitentiary, Coleman, on counts of mail fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Reportedly, Stanford’s fraud involved $7 billion of certificate deposits and an $8 billion investment scheme. On February 17, 2009, Federal Agents raided the offices of Stanford Financial, treating it as a kind of crime scene. On that same day, Stanford attempted to flee the country using a private jet but was refused because the company flying the jet would only accept a wire transfer. On June 18, 2009, Stanford was finally arrested on multiple accounts. On June 25, 2009, Stanford pleaded not guilty on charges of fraud, conspiracy and obstruction. Then on June 14, 2012, Stanford was sentenced to 110 years in prison.