5 Wolf of Wall Street CEOs

Top CEO Scandals

Top 5 CEO Scandals

Jordan Belfort, the Wolf of Wall Street, became a celebrity last Christmas when he was played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the Martin Scorsese film. However, Jordan wasn’t the only CEO to be involved in a major financial scandal. Several other CEOs of major companies have earned billions of dollars through illegal activities, spent it extravagantly, and then paid for their dishonesty in the prison system. Take a look below at our top five CEO scandals.

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Scandal #5 – Bernard Ebbers, WorldCom,

Cost of Fraud: $3.8 Billion


In terms of the amount of money swindled, Jordan Belfort’s $200 million doesn’t even come close to our 5th place slot. Bernard Ebbers co-founded the telecommunications company WorldCom, and is the former CEO. As a result of WorldCom’s false financial reporting, in 2004 Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years after he was convicted of security fraud and conspiracy charges. He is still serving time in Oakdale Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, Louisiana, and is not eligible for release until July, 2028, when he will be 87 years old.


Scandal #4 – Allen Stanford, Stanford Financial Group,

Cost of Fraud: $8 Billion


Now serving a 110-year sentence at United States Penitentiary, Coleman in Coleman, Florida, Allen Stanford was once contributing millions of dollars to politicians and sponsoring professional sports. In early 2009, Stanford became the subject of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission fraud investigation, where it was discovered that his company, Stanford Financial Group, was a massive Ponzi scheme defrauding investors of nearly $8 billion in certificates of deposits.


Scandal #3 – Calisto Tanzi, Parmalat

Cost of Fraud: $14 Billion


An Italian businessman, Calisto Tanzi embezzled over $14 billion from his company, Parmalat, which he founded. In 2003, Tanzi’s CEO scandal came to light when his company completely collapsed under the weight of his extravagant spending. He was convicted in 2008 by a court in Milan to 10 years in prison for fraud. To this day, the collapse of Parmalat remains Europe’s biggest bankruptcy.

Scandal #2 – Richard S Fuld, Jr., Lehman Brothers

Cost of Fraud: $50 Billion


The final Chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers, Fuld was also the longest-tenured CEO of Wall Street during the financial crisis of 2008. Known for his brutal competitiveness, he led the company into the black by leveraging securities fraud and, in the last moment of the company’s life, refusing to accept any deals that would have provided an injection of capital and saved his coworkers. Fuld was one of the highest-ever paid CEOs, bringing in nearly half a billion dollars in base salaries and cash bonuses during his tenure.


Scandal #1 – Bernie Madoff, Bernie L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC,

Cost of Fraud: $65 Billion


In our 1st place slot is none other than Bernie Madoff, the operator of a Ponzi scheme considered to be the largest financial fraud in the history of the U.S.  In 1960, Madoff founded his company and was chairman until his arrest on December 11, 2008. All in all, he defrauded thousands of investors of over $65 billion dollars, finally pleading guilty to 11 federal felonies. In 2009, Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison, the maximum allowed time.

To avoid causing a financial crisis or bankrupting your company, make sure you learn about best ethical practices in your business degree program.

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