Europe’s heavily indebted countries are infamously recognized by the financial acronym “PIIGS.” While financial experts namely mention Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain for bringing the EuroZone crisis to the forefront of the world’s finances, it is not only these nations that are in crisis. Countries such as Argentina and the Ukraine may not be included in the “PIIGS” group, but they have suffered their own economic problems, and financial collapse. It is fact, however, that even within these indebted states, there exists extraordinarily wealthy families who feel nothing of the economic demise, sustaining a lavish lifestyle. Some financial experts have cited that these wealthy families could bail out their indebted homelands at the drop of a hat, and while the reality is they could, the world has witnessed nothing of the kind. Behold, the world’s wealthiest families in some of the most indebted countries in the world.
10 Bjorgolfur Thor Bjorgolfsson, Iceland: $1 Billion Net Worth
The collapse of three major private banks in Iceland led to the Icelandic financial crisis from 2008-2011. The now infamous crisis (and banking system collapse) is noted as the worst of its kind in any country in history. As the crisis unfolded, Iceland’s top businessmen fell under scrutiny for their business practices (which were once revered) and potential contribution to the financial collapse. Amongst the several business moguls was Bjorgolfur Thor Bjorgolfsson, a shipping and brewing tycoon who partly owned Landsbanki, one of the national banks that collapsed. As Iceland’s first billionaire, Bjorgolfur Thor Bjorgolfsson was the first Icelander to be indicted in the Forbes Richest People list. While his net worth was stated as $3.5 million in 2007, it is now listed as $1 billion.
9 Carlos and Alejandro Bulgheroni, Argentina: $5.5 Billion Net Worth
The Argentina debt crisis is a result of the worst economic crisis in the country’s history. After defaulting on their $93 billion external debt, the country fell into economic depression. As foreign investment bailed and capital flow ceased, the country’s rich, remained just that. Listed on the Forbes list as 264th richest in the world, Argentinian brothers Carlos and Alejandro Bulgheroni, are worth a cool $5.5 billion. The brothers have a large stake in the family oil business, Bridas Energy. The Bulgheroni’s are considered the richest people in Argentina.
8 Américo Amorim, Portugal: $5.8 Billion Net Worth
Along with several other countries in the Eurozone, Portugal has been at the center of economic recession for the last few years. While the unemployment rate is rising, the government has attempted to impose more taxes and cut spending to reduce the deficit. With a drastic decrease in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stringent austerity measures, even the country’s Prime Minister has even been urging the educated youth flee the country for work. While the notion of a potentially threatening brain drain may not concern the country’s leader, the concept of depleting the country’s top achievers is a daunting possibility for future Portuguese success stories. One man that tops the list of top Portuguese achievers is the country’s richest man, Americo Amorim. Ranked number 212 on the Forbes rich list, Amorim’s company is the world’s largest producer of cork. In 2006 Corticeira Amorim had a turnover of over $620 million.
7 Spiros Latsis & Family, Greece: $7.5 Billion Net Worth
Placing the infamous “G” in the acronym “PIIGS,” no list outlining financial crisis, and wealthy families who endure them, would be complete without glorious Greece. Once the playground for billionaire shipping moguls, frivolous spending, relentless partying, and island hopping, Greece is now at the helm of the EuroZone Crisis, being depicted as the mouse that rocked the elephant. With a public debt of over $400 billion, exceptionally high unemployment and an even higher Diaspora rate, the cradle of civilization, has been rocked for good. While the Greeks are picking up the broken pieces, the business magnates who made their fortune a century prior remain unscathed. The richest of them all, is the Latsis family, edging out the billionaire shipping tycoons, the Niarchos’, for first place. The Latsis empire may have commenced with shipping, but has since diversified into petroleum, finance, and real estate, making their family net wealth, a staggering $7.5 billion.
6 Pallonji Mistry, Ireland: $9.7 Billion Net Worth
In 2008, it was revealed that Ireland had the highest number of household debt relative to income. Apparently it wasn’t until the 2008 financial crisis hit that the Irish economy fell under siege, reportedly being the first country in the EU to enter a recession. According to Forbes, there are five people yielding Irish citizenship that are amongst the 1,226 billionaires in the world, and Irishman Pallonji Mistry tops that list. 82 year-old Mistry resides in Mumbai, India, where he has a 18.4% stake in Tata Sons, India’s largest trading group. The group in which Minstry’s family is tightly involved with, has invested interests in motors, construction, textiles, chemicals, communications, energy, hotels, Tetley Tea and Jaguar Land Rover.
5 Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine: $11.1 Billion Net Worth
Self made billionaire Rinat Akhmetov has been in the midst of the current struggles in the Ukraine. Perhaps not physically, but the billionaire’s steel and iron based fortune has taken a beating in the current Ukraine crisis, as the feeble demand and brutal prices continue to slump. The magnitude and depth of Ukrainian poverty has only been heightened by the current Crimean crisis which has also become an international crisis. Akhmetov recently pledged he would defend his Ukrainian homeland in the case of Russian invasion, and would do “everything possible to maintain the integrity of the country.” Akhmetov controls almost half of the Ukraine’s coal, steel, ore and thermoelectricity sectors.
4 John Fredriksen, Cyprus: $ 11.9 Billion Net Worth
Perhaps the most recent financial crisis is that of the Republic of Cyprus. Just over a year ago, the Mediterranean island received over $10 billion in bailout by the Euro group, European Commission, and European Central Bank, and the IMF. The deal entailed Cyprus agreeing to close down the Laiki Bank, and enforcing a bank tax on all uninsured deposits, as well as a 40% tax on uninsured deposits in the Bank of Cyprus (most of which were held by wealthy citizens primarily from Russia). Although not a Cyprian native, John Fredriksen forwent his Norwegian citizenship in order to obtain a Cypriot passport. Once revered as Norway’s richest man, Fredriksen has a net worth of $11.9 billion, and is the owner of the world’s largest oil tanker fleet.
3 Henry Sy & Family, Philippines: $11.9 Billion Net Worth
The poverty in the Philippines can been attributed to several factors. The country’s rapid population growth and limited financial resources have added to the country’s poverty level, even though the country did see economic growth in the early 2000’s. Evidently, the rapid population growth has stumped the country’s ability to provide sufficient resources to its people. As the Philippines showcase a much higher unemployment rate than its bordering nations, there remains at least one unwavering family. Topping the country’s rich list is Filipino-Chinese property tycoon Henry Sy Sr. The business mogul, who was born into a poor family, and now the richest man in the Philippines, has invested interests in retail, real estate, hospitality, banking, mining, education including health care services, and according to Forbes has an estimated net worth of $11.9 billion.
2 Michele Ferrero & Family, Italy: $22 Billion Net Worth
The nation renowned for its political scandals, delicious foods, beautiful people, and luxury cars, is also responsible for producing several scrumptious bon-bons. The producers of Kinder, Ferrero Rocher chocolates, Tic Tac, and of course everyone’s favorite chocolate spread, Nutella, are none other than the Ferrero’s. The hazelnut chocolate spread was actually Pietro Ferrero’s empire starter back during World World II. According to Bloomberg Billionaire’s, Pietro’s son, Michele, is Italy’s richest man, worth a jaw dropping $22 billion. While Italy places one of the “I’s” in “PIIGS” it is also home to the richest candy makers on Earth, beating out Italy’s infamous former Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi for the top spot.
1 Amancio Ortega Gaona, Spain: $65 Billion Net Worth
Spain’s wealthiest man Amancio Ortega, may be responsible for the global fashion revolution. While he had humble beginnings, today the Spanish entrepreneur is responsible for an abundance of chic designs, and affordable fashions around the world. As the founder of the Inditex Group (Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Oysho, Pull and Bear, Stradivarius, Zara, Tempe, and Uterqüe) Ortega’s presence can be felt in literally every major mall and shopping district in the world. Ortega’s concept of cheap and cheerful fashion altered the habits of shoppers globally, especially in a time of financial crisis. With Spain’s youth unemployment at an astounding 50%, frozen or cut salaries for those humbly employed, Spaniards continue their plight for recovery out of a crisis and the group of “PIIGS.”