There are certainly many things in life that money can buy for you. Whether it’s luxury homes or private yachts, there is plenty out there that most of us will never own. That’s because most of us are not rich enough for those kinds of things. Somewhere in the world, there does exist a minority of people who never use online short term loans, and have the money and power to pay for whatever they want. As long as it’s their money that they’re using, we’ll let them do as they please. But there are surely some things in life that should be above money and wealth.
For a society to function properly, the rule of law has to apply to everyone, no matter how rich or powerful a person is. It can often feel like this isn’t the case when you see rich people getting close to politicians. It leads to an overall perception that we are not all as equal as we would like to think we are. So, can anything be bought with money? It’s certainly the case that some wealthy people have tried to buy favours from those in power. Corruption is a real problem, and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise. In some cases, this is seen as legitimate and legal. For example, in America, politicians usually have their campaigns funded by corporations and donors. There is an implicit suggestion that those donations buy them favours. These may be, for example, favourable laws and regulations when the politician is elected. Other examples are not legal at all though.
In many cases, rich people use their power and money to get up to no good. This might mean rigging markets, ripping off the poorer folk, or buying off politicians. These are all things that most of us could never do even if we wanted to. But the fact that all of these things have been tried and done successfully in the past does suggest that the system is rigged in favour of the rich. That said, it’s not quite as simple or straightforward as it seems. There are plenty of examples of people who’ve been convicted across the world despite their wealth. If the system is to work properly, it has to be as easy to convict the rich and powerful as it is to convict the poorest.
Luckily, the truth always seems to catch up with all fraudsters eventually. In the payday loan market itself the FCA are constantly uncovering new scammers. There are too many people who want justice and fairness for people to get away with misdeeds forever. Especially rich criminals. Ultimately, the house of cards always comes crashing down one way or another. However, as some of the examples below will show, it’s often the case that it takes time for the authorities to catch up with the crimes of the rich. On the other hand, the fact that the law catches up with you no matter how much you own should reassure us. So, here are some examples of rich people who have been convicted for their attempts to use their wealth to break laws.
There have been many examples of corruption in Hong Kong through the years. Things have cleaned up in recent times. But in the past, it was known as a place ruled by money rather than morality. This is the environment in which Thomas Kwok gave money to a chief secretary for insider information. Kwok is a property developer who owns some of the most striking buildings in Hong Kong. Bribing a public official led to him going to court in 2014 where he was sentenced to five years in prison for corruption. The official that took the bribe was also sentenced. It was the biggest corruption scandal since the territory was handed back to China in 1997.
Silvio Berlusconi is one of the most controversial and unconventional political figures in Europe. As well as being the former prime minister of Italy, he is also a prominent businessman. There have long been assumptions that he was in someway involved in corruption, and the allegations against him are too many to mention. Eventually, in 2014 he was convicted of fraud. And last year he was found guilty of bribing a senator in an attempt to bring down the government. For this crime, he was sentenced to three years in prison.
Thanks to market reforms in China, a small percentage of the population has got very rich in recent times. This has coincided with increased prosperity for the whole population, so it’s not all bad. But it has meant that greed among the richest people in Chinese society has rocketed. One example comes in the form of Ding Yuxin, a businesswoman convicted of bribery and sentenced to 20 years in prison. She bribed a railways minister in order to get a business advantage for her company. On top of that, she was charged an eye-watering fine of $400 million. Her case was part of a wide-ranging anti-corruption drive in the country.
Joseph Lau was looking for land deals when he offered public officials money to get him what he was after. This is not uncommon in Hong Kong, but Lau is one of the ones that got caught. In total, he was found guilty of offering $2 million in bribes to public officials. He was forced to hand over his business assets and was then put in prison for five years. It was one of the biggest fraud convictions to come out of Hong Kong in recent times. And other people would follow in Joseph Lau’s footsteps later on. Unfortunately, they didn’t learn from his mistakes.
In 2005, Bernard Ebbers was tried and sentenced to 25 years in prison for committing acts of fraud. He was once a famous telecommunications businessman who was very successful in his industry. This success, it was later found out, came from exploiting smaller companies and falsely claiming expenses. WorldCom, the company he ran, was found to have inflated the value of its assets by as much as $11 billion. That’s an incredible amount, and that’s how he landed himself in prison, where he still resides and will do for a while longer yet.
We all know Boris Becker as the former tennis champion. But he also failed to pay tax on the money he made as a part of his career in the sport. Becker claimed to be living in Monaco, which is famous for its low taxes. This allowed him to pay very little. There would be nothing wrong with that in legal terms if he were living in Monaco as he claimed. But, in reality, he was living in his home country of Germany the whole time, thus depriving the tax authorities of money. He was later ordered to pay $3 million, with added interest on top.
Jordan Belfort’s story is so fascinating that it was turned into a movie. Belfort was played by Leonardo Dicaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street. He’s a former stockbroker who manipulated the stock market by using a penny stock scam. His company was shut down after a big FBI investigation into what was going on. He was sentenced to time in prison, as well as being ordered to pay back $110 million worth of damages to investors who he scammed. If you want to find out more about what he did or what happened to him, check out the movie or the memoir.
You have to have broken a lot of laws to get sentenced to 110 years in prison. That’s what happened to Allen Stanford. In other words, he’ll never get out of prison. The main crime he committed was setting up a Ponzi scheme. He promised people that they would see a huge return on their investment if they gave him their money. In the end, he got very rich by taking billions of dollars from people. He’ll never be able to repay everyone he ripped off, but at least the law caught up with him in the end. That’s something to be thankful for.
Ten years ago, Wong Kwong Yu was the richest person in China. He got rich by selling things like home appliances and electronics. Unfortunately, he got where he was in life not through hard work but by insider trading and bribing the police. He even tried to bribe his way out of jail, but that failed. He’s now serving a 14-year prison sentence. It’s one of the most extraordinary downfall stories that you’ll find anywhere in the world. And it just goes to show that even the richest person in the land can’t get away with anything or buy their way to success forever. The law eventually couldn’t be bought, and that’s when it caught up with him.