5 secret billionaires who don't advertise their wealth

Forbes, Fortune and Bloomberg have a strict policy of who they can include in their rich lists, which leaves several super-rich in the shadows... which is where they'd like to be.

Every year, finance magazines such as Forbes and Fortune draw up a list of the richest people on the planet. The Bloomberg index is another metric that measures the wealth of the world’s top one-percenters. And while all these three indices are fairly accurate in the way they calculate the wealth of the richest people in the world, their respective company policies prohibits them from including certain people or certain kinds of people in their list.

For instance the editorial policy of both Forbes and Bloomberg prohibits them from including mobsters, dictators and royalty in the Forbes Rich list and the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index. Similarly Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index also excludes its founder and majority owner Michael Bloomberg who famously spent half a billion dollars on his recent presidential campaign.

This means the fortunes of people such as the Sultan of Brunei, Dawood Ibrahim, Bashar al-Assad et al don't always have an official figure to them. As a result there are several such super-rich people who are lurking in the shadows away from the chest-beating lists that would’ve put them in the media glare.

Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei

Photograph: Wikimedia Commons/Under Creative Commons License

The Sultan of Brunei is said to have an estimated net worth of $20 billion. And that was nearly a decade ago! Hassanal Bolkiah is said to own more than 600 Rolls Royce cars and his home is, at the moment, the largest private residence in the world. With 1800 rooms, the Istana Nurul Iman Palace cost him $350 million which was probably just lose change for the sultan.

Dawood Ibrahim

Photograph: Wikimedia Commons/Under Creative Commons License

He’s evaded arrest for a good part of three decades. After allegedly masterminding a series of explosions in 1993, Mumbai, Dawood Ibrahim went underground and has stayed away from public glare all these years. He started out as a small-time criminal in the ’70s and rose up the ranks till he became one of the richest drug dealers on the planet. While his estimated wealth comes nowhere close to Pablo Escobar’s estimated $25 billion in 1989, Ibrahim continues to remain alive, at large and worth well over $7 billion.

Kim Jong Un

Photograph: Wikimedia Commons/Under Creative Commons License

North Korea’s Supreme Leader doesn’t appear on any of the rich lists for a reason: no one can estimate for a fact just how wealthy he may be. However, unofficial estimates suggest that Kim Jong Un may have a net worth of $5 billion dollars which he is said to have amassed by engaging in cyber warfare, using slave camps and selling off his country’s natural resources. Kim Jong Un may not boast of a fleet of Rolls Royce but he does enjoy expensive cheese and foreign liquor.

Bashar al-Assad

Photograph: Wikimedia Commons/Under Creative Commons License

The Syrian leader who has presided over one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern times is said to be worth $1.5 billion. However, it has been suggested by many that Bashar al-Assad has spread his wealth all over the world and that could very well be in the tune of $120 billion or more.

Vladimir Putin

Photograph: Wikimedia Commons/Under Creative Commons License

Like with every person on this list, one cannot precisely estimate Vladimir Putin’s fortune. However, American financer Bill Browder, in a testimony before the US Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017, claimed that Putin’s estimated net worth could well be somewhere close to $200 billion. Browder, the American-born British financer is the CEO and founder of Hermitage Capital Management, which had at one point as much as $4 billion invested in Russian stocks. His claim would make Putin the richest person on the planet by a mile and a half (Bezos is merely at $148 billion).

Interestingly, neither Forbes nor Bloomberg include Vladimir Putin in their lists. While Forbes has officially stuck to the "we cannot ascertain his assets" line publicly, they have also not responded to whether they consider him a dictator (and therefore don't include him in the list).