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09.05.

Meet The Meth Kingpin Who Blew $125 Million Gambling In Vegas Casinos

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If the name Zhenli Ye Gon sounds familiar, it’s because he is the same Chinese-Mexican drug kingpin from the story of the largest amount of cash ever seized in one persons possession. If you don’t recall that story, back in 2007 Mexican drug agents and American DEA raided an unassuming house in the suburbs of Mexico City after receiving a tip about suspicious activity from an informant. After securing the property, the agents proceeded to check the residence room by room. Low and behold, when they opened the door to a back bedroom, agents were shocked to discover a mountain of neatly stacked money three feet high and six feet wide. In total, the mountain was made up of $207 million in mostly US hundred dollar bills. It was the largest amount of drug money ever discovered in history.

That house was owned by a businessman named Zhenli Ye Gon. Zhenli Ye Gon moved from Shanghai to Mexico in 1996 to work in the import/export business. By 2002, he was running a supposedly legitimate chemical importing company called Unimed Pharm Chem. Somewhere along the way, Mr. Ye Gon allegedly began re-directing a portion of his imports from legitimate businesses to the Sinola drug cartel. The cartel then used these precursor chemicals to manufacture massive quantities of crystal meth which were then shipped to the US.

Zhenli Ye Gon was actually not at the house when the raid went down and when he found out what happened he fled north, to The United States, of all places. When he reached the US, Zhenli claimed he was forced to hold on to the $207 million by a Cabinet member of Mexico’s then President Filipe Calderon. Zhenli admitted that the money was from the Sinola cartel and further claimed it was to be used in Calderon’s upcoming re-election campaign. Oh, and he also admitted that the total amount of dirty money he was “forced” to babysit was actually closer to $350 million.

Zhenli Ye Gon was indicted in The United States in 2007, but after a series of witnesses recanted or coincidentally turned up dead, the case was eventually dismissed. However, he is still fighting the government to not be extradited to Mexico where drug trafficking laws are slightly looser.

So how does this saga connect back to Las Vegas? Earlier this week, The Las Vegas Sands corporation was fined $47.4 million by the US Attorney’s office for failing to alert authorities to Zhenli Ye Gon’s very suspicious gambling activities. It turns out that between 2004 and the raid in Mexico in 2007, Zhenli gambled away just over $125 million in cash mainly at The Venetian (which is owned by Las Vegas Sands corp). Every casino is obligated to alert American authorities to any suspicious transactions that may involve illicit money.

Between 2006 and 2007 alone, Zhenli transferred $45 million in cash to the Venetian from various banks and money exchanges located around Mexico. He proceeded to not only blow the entire $45 million, but an additional $35 million he received on credit from the casino. For a while, Zhenli was by far and away the largest all-cash-upfront gambler in the history of Las Vegas and thanks to these unprecedented losses, the casinos treated him like a God. The casinos showered him with comped rooms, private jets, meals, cars, girls… we’re talking comps that are beyond mortal imagination. In total, Zhenli lost $85 million at the Venetian and another $40 million at a small handful of nearby casinos.

 

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08.15.

Eike Batista Has Lost $34.3 Billion In The Last 12 Months

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Eike Batista was born November 3, 1965 in Governador Valadares, Minas Gerais, Brazil. His father was the Minister of Mines and Energy for a state-owned conglomerate. As a teenager, Batista moved with his family to Europe when his father was promoted to new positions in Switzerland, Germany then Belgium. After the family returned to Brazil, the 22 year old Batista stayed in Europe and took a job as a door to door insurance salesman. When he was 23, Eike moved back to Brazil where he launched a gold trading company called Autram Aurem. Over the next 20 years, he went on to launch five new companies that specialized in mining gold, silver, natural gas, petroleum and various other commodities. The companies were controlled by Eike’s umbrella firm, EBX Group.

Eike’s wealth began to soar in the mid-90s, thanks to booming markets in commodities, real estate, entertainment, tourism and hospitality in Brazil. Pretty soon, Mr. Batista found himself sitting on a bonafide 10 figure bank account. When times were good, Eike violated one of the most important rules of modern business: Never personally guarantee anything. If your business borrows money, never personally guarantee to pay the loan back.

In December 2010, Eike Batista told 60 Minutes that Carlos Slim should watch out, because some day soon he would be stealing the Mexican tycoon’s title as richest person in the world. Two months later, Batista told Business Week that within 10 years his net worth would top $100 billion. Bold statements for a man whose net worth at the time was just $8 billion, compared to Carlos Slim’s $63 billion. But fast forward two years and those predictions didn’t seem so crazy after all. As worldwide commodities markets continued to soar, by August, 2012, Batista’s net worth grew an astonishing 331% to $34.5 billion. That was enough to make him the richest person in South America and the eighth richest person in the world.

Unfortunately, August 2012 turned out to be the absolute peak of the worldwide commodities market and subsequently Eike Batista’s personal wealth. Over the last 12 months, Batista’s OGX has declined 87% after oil production slowed from 750,000 barrels per day to just 15,000. The collapse of mineral prices equally obliterated Batista’s remaining four companies. Making matters worse, because Eike personally guaranteed $3.5 billion worth of corporate loans, a variety of creditors began to circle him like vultures.

In less than a year, Eike Batista has seen his wealth decline 99.4%, from $34.5 billion to just $200 million. If this decline remains or gets worse, it may turn out to be the largest evaporation of personal wealth in human history. After his Playboy model wife left him, he actually began parking his $1.2 million Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR in the living room, because he could. In recent weeks, Eike has been forced to the Benz along with mansions, artwork, a $19 million racing yacht and three private jets. Only time will tell if Eike can make a comeback, but things are certainly not looking good at the moment. Eike himself announced over twitter that anyone who bets against him now will be “caught with their pants down”. I guess anything is possible… How would you feel if you lost $34.5 billion in 12 months?

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07.24.

Fangio Mercedes Racer W196 Sells for a Record $29.7m at Bonhams Auction

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For classic car aficionados, Ferrari and Mercedes are the 2 names that will never lose its sheen in terms of the value escalation in the vintage and classic car market. We had earlier told you about the most historic 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 Grand Prix racing car scheduled to go on Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed auction in Britain. The car driven by the five-time world champion Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina has been sold for a record $29.7m, making it the most valuable motor vehicle ever sold at auction, beating the previous record of $16.39 million set by a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa at the Gooding & Company’s sale in 2011.

Though there have been few private sales of vintage Ferrari cars that have dominated the Guinness record book, the 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 single-seater became the most expensive Mercedes-Benz car ever sold at auction.
Robert Brooks, Bonhams Chairman, said: “I have handled some of the world’s most desirable and important motor cars during a motoring auction career spanning five decades, but I have reached a peak today with this legendary Grand Prix car. It is not only one of the most significant motor cars of the 20th century, but also the most important historic Grand Prix racing car ever offered for sale.”

The post-war example of Mercedes automotive excellence, the car with chassis number ’00006′ also has not just historical significance, but the car also sports innovative design. The W196 racer was built due to a change in the FIA governing body of international motor sport Grand Prix regulations in 1954, which required cars to have unsupercharged engines of no more than 2½-litres.

It was the first open-wheeled car with a lightweight body, an in-line 8-cylinder fuel-injected engine, with power take-off from the center of the engine, all-independent suspension, and with three different wheelbases.

The iconic car is one of just nine surviving examples with six of these owned by Mercedes and the rest of the three are in museums. Reportedly, this one is a very rare privately-owned example sold by the Emir of Qatar, who acquired it from the German industrialist Friedhelm Loh about eight years ago.

After the W196 cars with their enclosed wheels proved difficult to place upon the more twisty venue of the following British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Fangio requested an open-wheeled W196 variant for the following German Grand Prix on the twisty 14.2-mile Nurburgring road circuit. Mercedes-Benz reacted instantly, tailoring new cars ’00005′ and ’00006′ to Fangio’s recommendation.

It was in chassis ’00006′ that Fangio immediately won the German Grand Prix. He then repeated the feat in the following Swiss Grand Prix on the daunting Bremgarten forest circuit at Berne – storming round at uncatchable pace in ’00006′ to win by 58.7 seconds from Argentine compatriot Jose Froilan Gonzalez’s out-classed Ferrari. This Swiss victory was Fangio’s third in four Grand Prix races, and assured him of his second Drivers’ World Championship title.

 

 

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07.23.

Becoming Millionaires by Selling Domain Names

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Business.com made headlines for being the most expensive domain name in the world when it was sold for $7.5 million in 1999.  The record lasted till 2006 when it was broken by Sex.com which sold for a whopping $14 million in 2006 when Gary Kremen of Match.com decided to quit the adult entertainment industry.  The market for resale of domain names is pretty strong, though not as much as it was during the peak of the dot-com era.  There is a business that amounts to millions of dollars in the resale of domain names.  The most expensive domain name sold is Insure.com that was sold in 2009 for $16 million.  There were many other worthy domain name sales that happened in 2009 which include Toys.com and Candy.com.

It is frustrating when you find out that someone else has beaten you to a domain name and it is even more frustrating when you learn that they are parking it with a motive of reselling it to you at an inflated price.  Here are ten domain names that have turned their owners into millionaires:

 

1. Sex.com

Sex.com earned a whopping $13,000,000 and is the top selling domain name till now.

 

2. Fund.com

Fund.com might not be a perfect domain name, but it was worth a little under 10 million dollars ($9,999,950) when it was bought in 2008.

 

3. Porn.com

Porn.com was sold in May 2007 with its self-explanatory name for  $9,500,000.

 

4. Fb.com

Fb.com does ring a bell as people now identify it with Facebook also known as “FB”.  Perhaps this domain name was based on the owner’s initials, but boy did he strike gold with this one!  Along the years, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook decided to buy fb.com for $8,500,000 in 2010.

 

5. Diamond.com

This domain name is another one that is obvious and that is why it was bought for $7,500,000.

 

6. Beer.com

Beer.com has got to be a favourite with men, as ‘beer’ is majorly googled by them.  This one was bought for a whopping seven million dollars in 2004.  However, there is nothing you see on the website as it appears to be a parked domain waiting for the prospective bidder! r pocket.

 

7. Casino.com

This one is a successful website as online gambling has become a fast-catching trend nowadays; however, the sad part here is that it did not quite fetch a high price as it was sold for $5,500,000 in 2003.

 

8. Slots.com

This was sold at the same price of Casino.com ($5,500,000) and that too seven years earlier!

 

9. Toys.com

This domain name was purchased by the toy giant ToysRUs in 2009 for $5,100,000.

 

10. Asseenontv.com – $5,000,000

This domain name was sold in 2000 for five million dollars because reality TV was on the upswing and purchasing it was a shrewd business decision.   However, this domain is still parked and awaiting a lucrative deal.

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