Can you name therichest person in the world? Odds are youll name Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. You wouldnt be wrong, according to traditional sources. TheForbes Billionaire Listis the go-to for tracking the worlds richest people. But what if the list wasnt entirely accurate, meaning some people with huge fortunes dont appear on it?
Dark wealth hides many of the richest people in the world. Some rich people want to fly under the radar. Money attracts attention, and theyd rather live in peace. Others earned secret fortunes in less-savory ways. Drug lords, for example, wont show up on the Forbes list. Neither will gangsters or dictators.
The fact is theres a lot of dark wealth out there. Some estimates putPutins net wortharound $70 billion. Recently, though, we learned it may be much higher. Still, we dont see him discussed alongside Gates or Buffett because his wealth is tied up in obscure banks and investments all over the world. The same goes for many other people. These 17 individuals and families control a vast swath of dark wealth (including the man at No. 9 whoowns the worlds largest private residence).
The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and his wife wait to vote in an election. YouTube
Ilham Aliyev only makes the equivalent of$228,000 annually, but occasional high-profile purchases within Aliyevs family reveal much more. In 2010, the presidents 12-year-old son bought nine luxury waterfront mansions in southern Dubai for about $44 million or roughly 10,000 years worth of salary for the average citizen of Azerbaijan, according to theWashington Post. These type of investments are typical of high-profile politicians and athletes who need to hide money.
Next:Money hides behind every family member of this prime minister.
He was the leader of the Chinese government for a decade. Feng Li/Getty Images
You will find Wen Jiabaos name in Forbes. But the real interesting thing about the former Chinese prime minister is his estimated $2.7 billion is hidden all over the place through a vast familial network.
ANew York Times investigationpublished in 2012 does a good job of explaining the complicated web of finances that make up the Jiabao fortune, ultimately landing at the $2.7 billion figure. From that investigation, it appears the family including Jiabaos mother and children amassed most of their money while he ran the country.
Next:A surprising female addition to this list
The oldest daughter of Angolas former president speaks at a conference. YouTube
Former President of Angola, Jos Eduardo Dos Santos, has six children from three marriages. His oldest daughter, Isabel, is the richest woman in Africa with an estimated net worth of $3.4 billion.
The countrys wealthy elite who benefit from Angolas oil and blood diamond industries work hard to make sure the poor stay poor. A great deal of energy is spent trying to remove the poor from the sight of Angolas hyper-rich, saysBBC journalist Mary Harper. She explains that the poors shacks are bulldozed regularly, and the government keeps beer cheap and sponsors concerts and football matches to distract the poor.
Dos Santos might not beAfricas richest womananymore. Angolas new president rescinded all the big government contracts the former leader handed over to Dos Santos.
Next:From African oil wealth to a European monarch
Its good to be the prince. Alexander Klein/AFP/Getty Images
Who hasnt dreamed of being European royalty, with billions of dollars to play with and a fun title like Prince Something-or-Other? For Hans-Adam II, the Prince of Lichtenstein, that dream is a reality. Hes one of the last remaining monarchs in Europe. And now, at 72 years old, he presides over his familys bank, investment portfolio, palaces and real estate, and of course its400-year-old art collection. Not too bad.
Next:A name were all way too familiar with.
Most of the money comes from black market trading. STR/AFP/Getty Images
Seeing as how his family has amassed a fortune by selling off its countrys resources, engaging in cyber warfare, and using slaves, you wont find Kim Jong Un on Forbes list. Though hes far from the richest man in the world, Kim Jong Un hasan estimated $5 billionat his disposal, which he likes to use to buy expensive foreign cheeses and liquors. But most of his country languishes with little food and no electricity.
Next:An Indian mobster and terrorist whos made an astounding amount of cash
He is a known terrorist and is currently in hiding. Interpol
In the United States, we have Tony Soprano. In India, they haveDawood Ibrahim. Ibrahim is a crime lord who runs an organized crime syndicate called D-Company. He founded D-Company in Mumbai during the 1970s, and since then hes lined his pockets with nearly $7 billion to become one of therichest drug dealersever. Ibrahim also has quite the rap sheet. Hes one of the worlds most wanted criminals and is facing charges of murder, terrorism, drug trafficking, and assassination.
Next:This leader owns a ridiculously expensive mega-yacht.
Hes been president for decades. Yasser Al-Zayyat/AFP/Getty Images
These guys in the Middle East know how to soak up cash and resources if that hasnt become abundantly clear. And speaking of abundance, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the United Arab Emirates, is worth a cool $15 billion. He has served as the UAEs president since 1971 and has been instrumental in opening up the country to the west. These days, the UAE is a hotbed of business and political activity, with the president raking in a handsome payday as well.
Next:The former president of a nearby African nation who fell during the Arab Spring
He was ousted from power. Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images
Well give you fair warning: This list is rich with politicians and dictators from the Middle East who fell from power during the 2011 Arab Spring. Zine al Abidine Ben Ali is one of them. The former president of Tunisia (serving from 1987 until 2011),Ben Alihas a reported $17 billion in assets stashed away. Like other dictators, Ben Ali pilfered Tunisia by socking away billions for himself, much of which has found its way back to the countrys citizens after his ouster.
Next:The man who owns the biggest residence in the world
He owns more than 600 Rolls-Royces. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Many of us are happy to be able to snag an affordable apartment with more than one bedroom, but the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, owns a residence with more than 1,800. His $20 billion worth comes as a result of oil and gas sales and development. The guy also owns more than600 Rolls-Royceautomobiles, to give you an idea of what kind of obscene wealth were dealing with here.
The country went into a period of mourning after his passing. Pairoj/AFP/Getty Images
The king of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, passed away in fall 2016. But were including him on our list because of his immense wealth and the fact that most people dont realize just how rich he was. Heheld the throne for 70 years, during which time he compiled all $30 billion of his fortune. Most of that money came from real estate and property investments, with a lot of it growing as Bangkok became a major international hub in recent decades.
He never even finished elementary school. Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images
If you havent had your fill of rich politicians from the Middle East, then youre in luck. Ali Abdullah Salehfits the bill, as he was the president of Yemen for more than three decades. One interesting thing about him is he actually never finished elementary school and joined the army at a young age eventually becoming a colonel. Like other leaders in the Middle East, he was removed from power during the Arab Spring in 2011 but not before collecting tens of billions for his personal fortune.
Egypt is still having corruption problems. Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images
The Arab Spring claimed another victim in Hosni Mubarak, who was overthrown after serving as Egypts fourth president from 1981 until 2011. Prior to his career in politics, he was an officer in Egypts air force. Now, at the age of 89, hes living off of the roughly $70 billion he scraped together during his reign. Interestingly enough, an Egyptian prosecutor wrote American media outlets in 2011, claiming the Mubarak family had way more money and assets than anyone realized. The total figure, according to the prosecutor?Upward of $700 billion.
Next:Syrias sitting leader is also a very rich man.
He is thought to have billions stashed away. Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images
Most of us are familiar with Bashar al-Assad as we have followed the ongoing crisis and disaster in Syria. Assad is another long-sitting Middle Eastern dictator who has more or less used his country as a personal piggy bank. While official estimates put his wealth at a fairly reasonable amount around $1.5 billion, typically others suspect he has way, way more than that. Like Mubarak, its theorized that Assads fortunes are hidden all over and add up tomore than $120 billion.
Next:Were not through with the Arab Spring.
His body was dragged through the streets for everyone to see. Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images
Before he was killed and dragged through the streets, Muammar Gadaffi was the leader of Libya. And, like so many others on our list, he was overthrown during the Arab Spring in 2011. But Gadaffi is different in that he reportedly had an unbelievable amount of wealth, tallying up toas much as $200 billion. When youre in charge for an entire generation, you evidently can make a lot of money. Thats what Gadaffi did, hiding his wealth in secret bank accounts, real estate, and corporate investments around the world.
Next:A man whos still alive and who might just be the richest man in the world
For years, the oligarchs of Russia have been stashing money. Adam Berry/Getty Images
Unofficially, Vladimir Putin is the richest man in the world with more than twice as much money as Bill Gates. Again, though, thats unofficial.
Donald Trump may be rich. But his wealth pales in comparison to a man he seems to admire very much: Vladimir Putin. The president of Russia has served as both president and prime minister since 1999. Over that period of time, Putin and other Russian oligarchs have been at work pilfering billions from their country and stashing it all over the world.Recent testimonyfrom financier Bill Browder (as a part of the ongoing Russia-Trump scandal) estimated his net worth at $200 billion. That would make him the richest man in the world.
Next:Well continue on with a couple of staggeringly rich families, which deserve a little recognition for just how much money they control.
There are three generations of Rothschilds in this photo. Mehdi Fedouach/AFP/Getty Images
Youve likely heard of the Rothschilds. And though there are a few members of the family who make an appearance on the worlds richest lists, were including the family on this list because, well, the amount of money it has is a bit understated. The family fortune is divided up a number of ways, but when you add it all up you get a number that is estimated to be in the trillions by some. But its probably more inthe neighborhood of $400 billion.
The Saudi royal family is the richest in the world. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
With a total fortune ofan estimated $1.4 trillion, the House of Saud controls a staggering amount of wealth. As Saudi Arabias royal family, the family has built most of its wealth through the extraction of oil, which has also helped the country gain considerable political influence and sway on the international stage. Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the current king of Saudi Arabia, is worth more than a billion all on his own. But like many others on our list, the familys wealth is spread far, wide, and away from prying eyes.
Writer Jason Rossi also contributed to this article.
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