Venezuela is a country known for large oil reserves. However, it has the worst inflation rate, nearly making its currency worthless. The government also has one of the most significant gaps between the elite and everyday citizens.
All of this and more created a wealth gap. Even though many of Venezuela's citizens have a terrible quality of life, some people continue to get richer, most likely from corruption and other illegal means. Nonetheless, there are a handful of people in the country who are thriving. These are the 10 richest people in Venezuela.
10. Wilmer Ruperti Net worth: $1.5 Million
Ruperti's path to wealth began in 1987 when he worked as a tanker master for Maraven S.A., a Venezuelan oil company. One of the things that are helped him amass his fortune in siding was aligning with former president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, during an oil crisis. Later, he expanded his portfolio, buying the Venezuelan television channel Canali.
9. Nicolas Maduro Net worth: $3 Million
In 1999, he became part of the National Constituent Assembly, responsible for rewriting the Venezuelan constitution, which helped Hugo Chavez become president. Maduro served as the interim president after Hugo Chavez passed away. Even though the former vice president stayed in power after another election, Venezuelan people repeatedly tried to remove him from office. According to Britannica (), his unwavering support of chavismo caused the majority of social unrest.
8. Victor Vargas Net worth: $720.5 million
Vargas' mother was the first woman to serve on the country's Supreme court. His rise in the banking industry started when he bought 2% of CapitalBanc Corp located in New York City. However, it was later shut down after allegations of fraud directly linked to Vargas.
In 1992, he sold another bank he founded and used those funds to start Banco Occidental de Descuento, located in Zuila. One of the reasons it's so successful is most clients are deeply involved in the oil industry. Vargas' career is marred with controversy since he wasn't successful before Hugo Chavez became president.
7. Alejandro Andrade Net worth: $1 billion
He graduated from the Venezuelan Military Academy. As a military officer, he worked alongside then lieutenant Hugo Chavez, later becoming his bodyguard and secretary. After working in the government, he moved to Wellington, Florida. In December 2017, he pleaded guilty to money laundering after receiving over a billion dollars from Raul Gorrin, governor of Globovision.
6. Sheyene Gerardi Net worth: $1 billion
Gerardi is a Venezuelan actress, model, and television host. Additionally, she founded the non-profits Sheyene Institute and Sheyene Gerardi Foundation, which helps low-income families with healthcare and education. According to IMBD, Gerardi uses her fame to work with numerous committees that promote social change and worldwide education initiatives. Aside from her work with a non-profit, she is a race car driver and owns an Audi R8 racecar.
5. Lorenzo Mendoza Net worth: $1.5 billion
Mendoza heads the largest food company in Venezuela, Empresas Polar, started by his grandfather. Unlike many other people on the list, he's always opposed Chavez's regime and disagrees with the country's politics. This fact has made things hard for him. In December 2015, government officials shut down Polar's Pepsi plant and demined they restarted production. After refusing, they promptly dismissed a large number of employees.
4. Ricardo Fernandez Barrueco Net worth: $1.6 billion
Barrueco's career started with a small trucking company. During a strike in 2002, he lent trucks to the Venezuelan government to aid food delivery. Even though he received a lot of death threats, this strategic move helped him grow his business. He also runs the Proreapa Group, which distributes 10% of Venezeala's maize flour.
3. Juan Carlos Escotet Net Worth: $3.1 Billion
He is the founder of Banesco Banco Universal, with branches in Venezuela, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Florida, and Spain. During the 1990s, he bought out Venezualan banks and purchased one in Panama called Banco Union, later merging it with his own company. According to Silicon Spectra, Escotet's first job was as a messenger for Banco Union. Later, he purchased another division, Banco Echeverria, in 2013.
2. Gustavo Cisneros Net Worth: $4 Billon
Currently, he is the chairman of CISNEROS, a privately held media, entertainment, and telecommunications company. The company owns many additional subsidiaries and provides services for almost a hundred countries worldwide. Besides spearheading CISNEROS, he also has a place on the board of directors with Barrick Gold Corporation.
Additionally, he is the Senior Advisor for RRE Ventures LLC, a member of the University Council at Rockefeller center, and a charter member of the United Nations Information and Communications Technologies Task Force.
Much of his career has been working for top companies in business, education, and current affairs. According to Gustavo Cisneros, alongside his wife, Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, founded the Fundacion Cisneros, a non-profit dedicated to improving education in Latin America.
1. Maria Gabriella Chavez Net Worth: $4.2 Billion
Many sources list Gustavo Cisneros as the wealthiest man in Venezuela. However, it's the second oldest daughter of Hugo Chavez whose indeed the richest person in Venezuela. People question how the family made as much money, and some feel that it was at the expense of others.
One of the things that make her wealth so outrageous is that her father once said, "the rich don't work, they're lazy." During a speech in 2010, he went on to say, "every day they go drinking whiskey-almost ever day- and drugs, cocaine, they travel."
Until Maria Gabriella Chavez became the United Nations, alternate ambassador, she still lived in the presidential mansion while Nicolas Maduro lived in the vice-presidential mansion.
There are many rumors about corruption, including accusations Chavez participated in money laundering with an Argentinean rice company, Biobart. After being called out, she posted on Instagram, "they're such simple beings that they have no inkling about the bigger riches you gave me and that you left me."
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Written by Dana Hanson
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