There is an old saying that goes “Crime doesn’t pay”. However, if they mean in monetary terms, that is not always true. Some criminals have made enough money to be the richest people in their countries, and have even appeared on lists of the richest people in the world. From racketeering to fraudulent trading, fortunes have been made by the less honest in our societies. Below are some criminals that have made a more than good living from crime.
Born in New York, Al Capone moved to Chicago in 1919, having already had experience of the gangster underworld. He quickly rose through the ranks of John Torrio’s operation and by 1922 became second in command to Chicago boss John Torrio. Capone was a clever, ruthless man, and was soon made a full partner. His talents improved the operation, and before long the prohibition cash was rolling in at an incredible rate. He amassed a fortune in the area of $100 million, which was a huge sum for the 1930’s. His notoriety has probably made him the most famous gangster of all time, but his wealth definitely mad him the richest of his day.
Rich criminals don’t come any richer than this. Pablo Escobar is said to have made a $30 billion fortune from cocaine smuggling. From humble beginnings in Columbia, Escobar rose to be the 7th richest person in the world. His criminal life flourished in Columbia because of he would bribe or murder officials that became a problem. This led to the joint operation with America that sealed his fate. In 1993, after a 15 month operation that cost millions of dollars in funding, Escobar was shot dead. He died a very rich man but he was only 44 years old.
Kozlowski is a former CEO of a company called Tyco, and was reportedly earning $100 million a year working for them. Unfortunately this didn’t stop him from using the firm’s money as his own, and in 2005 he was convicted of the illegal receipt of $81 million in bonuses, plus $14 million worth of art. With a fortune estimated at $600 million, it seems absurd that he would funnel this money out of Tyco. Especially as his wage packet for 1 year was larger than the proceeds of his crime. Dan Ackman writing in Forbes stated, “They acted like pigs, as a lot of CEOs act like pigs”. This was a reference to the greed of Kozlowski and his chief Financial officer; and that they would never be satisfied with their wealth.
Here are three different criminals from three different eras, the only thing they have in common is that they made a lot of money through crime. But did crime pay for them? For Escobar it definitely did not, but for Capone and Kozlowski maybe it did. Capone died a recluse, as many people do, but he was free after his jail term. Kozlowski will eventually be released and can spend his life in luxury. But in all honesty, I believe crime made these criminals suffer; as I believe it should.