The following top 10 candidates are ranked by the levels of their greed and low ethics:
1. Bernie Madoff
After all the media dedicated to Madoff, you're probably tired of hearing his name. However, you have to remember he is the admitted operator of a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, the largest in history. He knowingly ripped off family, friends, charities, fellow synagogue members, and even Gisele! What kind of monster rips off Gisele?
2. Dick Fuld
As the CEO of Lehman Brothers for 40 years, the "Gorilla" of Wall Street ran the company into the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history with the company holding over $600 billion in assets. Known for his competitiveness, he led the charge into sub-prime mortgages and then allegedly hid billions of dollars of debt from the public.
3. Angelo Mozilo
Under Mozillo, Countrywide Financial turned into the biggest mortgage lender in this country for what turned out to be toxic loans. During the housing bubble, which his company helped create, he made $470 million. More than any other person, Mozillo is the fake-tanned face of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. In addition, the SEC has charged him with insider trading and securities fraud. CNN named Mozilo one of the "Ten Most Wanted: Culprits" of the financial collapse and Conde Nast named him the second "Worst American CEOs of All Time."
4. Jimmy Cayne
As the former CEO and chairman of Bear Stearns, he led the company to collapse with incredibly risky investments. When Bear Stearns's stock crashed, he sold his stake in the company for $61 million and jumped ship. That is about one billion dollars less than his net worth was estimated at before the collapse.
Almost every major disaster Bear Stearns stepped into happened while Cayne was away playing in world-class bridge tournaments. Cayne was distinctly named by CNBC as one of the "Worst American CEOs of All Time."
5 Joseph Cassano
Cassano is known as "Patient Zero" of the global economic meltdown. As an officer at AIG Financial Products, he made excessively risky and arguably criminal investments that most likely led to the company's downfall, its need for a major government bailout and, ultimately, a key factor in the global financial crisis.
From 1987 until his forced resignation in 2008, he received over $315 million -- on the books, at least. He is currently still under criminal investigation.
6. Dennis Kozlowski
This former CEO of Tyco is currently serving up to 25 years in prison for receiving $81 million in unauthorized bonuses. He also used company money to buy $14.725 million of art, a $30 million New York apartment and to pay for half of a $2 million birthday party for his wife. The party was held on the island of Sardinia and featured an ice sculpture of Michelangelo's David urinating Stoli vodka.
7. John Thain
As the CEO and chairman of Merrill Lynch, Thain oversaw the company's merger with Bank of America. Reportedly, once Ken Lewis, CEO of Bank of America, learned Merrill Lynch's losses were far larger than previously reported, he forced Thain to resign. It seems Thain hid the fact that his company lost $15 billion during the fourth quarter of 2008. However, instead of helping investors, Thain used their government bailout for $20 billion in executive bonuses; he tricked the Bank of America and the taxpayers for his business's failure and his extravagant lifestyle; and he spent more than a million dollars decorating his office. Currently, he's under criminal investigation.
8. John Paulson
The founder and president of Paulson & Co., a New York-based hedge fund, Paulson profited during the financial crisis by betting against synthetic collateralized debt obligations (CDO's).
The SEC alleges his company misrepresented to investors the stability of mortgage packages underlying the CDOs. He stood to profit from these CDOs failing because he had already sold short or would sell short. However, his investors would lose a bundle. Essentially, he made hundreds of millions on home foreclosures while taxpayers lost money. His wealth is currently estimated at $12 billion.
9. Robert Rubin
As the United States Secretary of Treasury under Bill Clinton, Rubin pushed to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial and investment banking. Many cite this repeal as a major cause of the financial crisis.
After his government stint, he became director and senior counselor of Citigroup and enjoyed the profits resulting from the lack of a Glass-Steagall Act. Rubin resigned from Citigroup after being accused of selling shares at inflated prices while concealing the firm’s risks and widespread criticism of his unethical practices. He received more than $126 million in cash and stock during his eight years at Citigroup.
10. Carl Icahn
Icahn is the seminal corporate raider and reportedly part of the original inspiration for Gordon Gekko. After forming a company that focused on risk arbitration, he began seeing opportunities to take control of companies by buying up stocks. He liquidated faltering companies and left their employees out of work. With TWA, he got the rights to sell TWA tickets at a steep discount. People bought his tickets, pushed TWA into the red and forced the company to start layoffs. His net worth is estimated at $10.5 billion.
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