Known for his displays of ostentation, former billionaire Eike Batista is one of the few people who are familiar with being near the top of the world’s rich list and who subsequently fell from grace – after being convicted of bribery and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Once among the world’s richest men, oil and mining magnate Eike Batista will likely be remembered for altogether more unsavoury reasons after he was found guilty of bribing former Rio de Janeiro governor Sergio Cabral – to the tune of €17.8 million – in exchange for contracts with Rio State.
However, while his public profile has been forever stained, Mr Batista’s wealth – which peaked at €30 billion – has waned over the years following an explosive rise to the pinnacle of the world’s rich list.
While the business world is no stranger to individuals climbing high and then falling far, rarely does anyone do it quite to the extent of this Brazilian.
In 1974, a then 18-year-old Batista proved his enterprising mindset by selling insurance policies door-to-door in order to make ends meet while studying metallurgical engineering in Germany.
By his 23rd birthday, he had returned to his home country and launched his own gold trading firm, Autram Aurem, which yielded profits of €5 million just 18 months later.
His profitable relationship with the business of precious metals only grew from there and he was soon CEO of Canadian mining company TVX Gold at 29.
Between 1980 and 2000, he created $20 billion in value with the operating of eight gold mines in Brazil and Canada – in addition to a silver mine in Chile, tripling the company’s value in the process
Between 1980 and 2000, he created $20 billion in value with operations at eight gold mines in Brazil and Canada – in addition to a silver mine in Chile, tripling the company’s value in the process.
From 2004 to 2010, Batista focused on creating and expanding his business empire at a time when Brazil was experiencing an unprecedented commodities boom that lasted much of the decade.
Capitalising on this, he branched out of the sector he had grown to dominate and established numerous new companies.
He founded OGX, an energy exploration and production company, in 2007 and used his considerable financial capital to outbid the competition – often by as much as 100% – so as to garner the lion’s share of offshore leases.
Sticking to the three-letter format, he then began new companies in new industries, including logistics (LLX) and offshore (OSX) interests.
The world had started to take notice of his exploits by 2010, and it was during that year that he was named as Bloomberg Markets Magazine’s 58th most powerful man in the world.
The next year saw Forbes name him the eighth richest person in the world and the richest in South America, with his personal wealth, has reached an estimated $30 billion.
The 62-year-old’s enormous wealth dissipated almost as quickly as it was amassed, and by 2013 none of his companies was operating profitably.
Once the richest man in Brazil, Batista has been fined around $134 million for insider trading and remains under house arrest pending an appeal against his 30-year jail sentence
The foundation on which he built his business empire – the precious metals mining industry – began to crumble at that time, resulting in his companies going bankrupt one by one.
And the deterioration of his public profile likely didn’t help: between 2012 and 2015 he was tried on two counts of insider trading and one each of misleading investors, market manipulation, criminal conspiracy and false representation.
Batista’s wealth fell by more than 100% during that three-year period, from a peak of $35 billion to less than zero.
Things got even worse for Batista in 2017, when he was initially arrested and charged with the bribes for which he has now been convicted.
He has since become the subject of derision in Brazilian discourse, with the police confiscating expensive watches, sculptures, pianos, a Lamborghini and even a counterfeit Fabergé egg during raids of his various residences.
Once the richest man in Brazil, Batista has been fined around $134 million for insider trading and remains under house arrest pending an appeal against his 30-year jail sentence.
Apart from the massive fine, Batista also was also banned from running a publicly-traded company for seven years.
Batista has also been accused of selling shares in his oil company, OGX, in 2013 when he knew it would be unable to explore blocks acquired at an auction in 2007. It was the second time he has been fined for insider trading.
Batista was also one of nine people arrested in 2017 as part of a larger investigation concerning a $100m corruption scandal.
Regarded by many as the face of Brazilian capitalism, Batista will now be more associated with the greedy side of the business.