Wednesday, September 10, 2008

And You Thought Bankers Spend Lots Of Cash..

Having profiled some of the hedge fund rock stars recently, we though we would take a look at those who put even our zillionaire colleagues to shame when it comes to the spending stakes.

These dictators have tastes that would require Paulson-like performance every year with fees of 2 and 50 (at least).

Ferdinand Marcos

The so-called freedom fighter turned dictator nicked billions of dollars from his countrymen and stashed it away in secret accounts.

His wife, however, took the monthly housekeeping the most seriously. When the family fled the presidential palace she left 888 handbags and 1060 pairs of shoes. Not happy with department store-type collections of shoes and handbags she coveted buildings too. $51 million for the Crown Building and $61mn for the Herald Center in New York were just two of her purchases.

In March this year 32 legal cases were dropped against her for stealing $430mn which ended up in Swiss accounts. She said "First of all, I am so happy and I thank the Lord that the 32 cases have been dismissed by the regional court here in Manila".

Only 869 to go.

Kim Jong-Il

Son of the previous dictator, Kim Jong-Il loves his luxuries. He has only slightly more homes than John McCain with 17 palaces. He has hundreds of cars and about 20,000 video tapes (one would assume he has a similar collection of DVDs). On one state visit to Russia, he reportedly had live lobsters air lifted daily to his armored private train and maintained an entourage of young lovelies known as the "Pleasure Brigade"

In 1994, Hennessy said that Kim Jong-Il was its best customer for cognac for two years running, switching from Hennessy VSOP to $630-a-bottle Hennessy Paradis in 1992. When doctors told him to stop smoking, all senior officers in his army were required to quit with him.

According to Newsweek, Kim Jong-Il has salted away more than $4 billion in Swiss bank accounts, and used forced labour to mine gold from a mountain in Korea, which is also deposited in his Swiss bank account. He has six villas in Europe, including one in Geneva, and two more in Russia and China.

Nicolae Ceausescu

Before having his head publicly aerated Ceausescu was a prolific spender. His official salary was $3,000 which he used to such great affect he could be a lesson to us all on making cash stretch.
This $3,000 managed to buy him 15 palaces, a superb car collection, yachts, fine art and, in one case of uber-spending, tens of thousands of homes were demolished to make space for his 1,100-room, 480-chandelier Palace of the Parliament in the capital, Bucharest.

Saparmurat Niyazov

President of Turkmenistan, 1990 - 2006. The President for Life and "Turkmenbashi", or Father of all Turkmen, was at the centre of an awesome cult of personality. Although there are plenty on this list who would be inline for 'nut-job of the century' this guy would have a good case.

His vanity projects included a £6 million revolving gold-plated statue of himself in the country's capital, Ashgabat. He shifted around £3 billion to overseas accounts, renamed the month of January (after himself), banned beards and ordered that his musings be displayed alongside the Koran in mosques

Idi Amin

Six foot four and, at his peak, 20 stone, the former heavyweight boxing champion of Uganda appeared to relish his monstrous reputation. Subject to "visitations from God", and reputedly boasting a collection of human heads extensive enough to require its own deep-freeze, Amin
was popularly considered to be deranged.

Self proclaimed "Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea", "Emperor of Uganda" and "King of Scotland" were some of the awards that Idi the idiot gave himself. This was along with a VC (the Victorious Cross), and a CBE (Conqueror of the British Empire - I kid you not). He also spent millions on a super-lavish lifestyle - maintaining a reported 30 mistresses as well as five wives and fathering at least 43 children. A typically mad-capped project was the creation of a personal bodyguard of bagpipe-playing 6ft 4in Scotsmen.

His take on opponents was: "I ate them before they ate me" - which was later given an unholy twist. His exiled Health Minister, Henry Kyemba, confessed that "on several occasions he told me quite proudly that he had eaten the organs or flesh of his human victims".

Saddam Hussein

The Baathist leader with a fondness for gold-plated bathroom fittings, and Kalashnikovs, rebuilt Babylon on kitsch rather than authentic lines, stamping each brick of the "reconstruction" with his own name in the manner of Nubachadnezzar, the ancient Babylonian king and conqueror of Jerusalem.

When Iraq was invaded, in order to help stabilise the countries financial system Saddam's confiscated cash from US bank accounts was sent to Iraq in dollars to pay government employees.

To carry out the first stage of the plan, President Bush issued an executive order on March 20, 2003, instructing United States banks to relinquish Mr. Hussein’s frozen dollars. $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills were sent to Iraq which weighed 237.3 tons.

His playboy eldest son Uday, meanwhile, kept a private zoo with lions and cheetahs at his Baghdad residence and owned a collection of 1,200 luxury cars.

Mobutu Sese Soku

President of Zaire, 1965 - 1997. Switzerland was popular with Mobutu as the "All-Powerful Warrior", was estimated to send $5 billion to his accounts in 1984 - then equivalent to his country's national debt. Mobutu's extravagances included palaces and pink champagne, yachts and shopping trips to Paris by chartered Concorde. His second wife Bobi Ladawa rivaled Imelda Marcos as a compulsive spender - with a reported 1,000-dress wardrobe.


President of Indonesia, 1967 - 1998. At least this one started off in a bank, albeit as a clerk rather than a hedge fund manager. Suharto embezzled more money than any other leader in history, according to Transparency International. In 1999, Time Asia put his family's wealth
at $15 billion.

Playboy son "Tommy" was the biggest-profile spender - lavishing money on cars and clothes and buying a majority stake in Lamborghini before a conviction for murder in 2002. His daughter "Tutut", meanwhile, spent $100,000 on chartering one shopping flight to the US.

Puts my son's recent purchase of a Playstation Portable into perspective.

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