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Rich surprise: Alan Bond bounces back

Bond spent just over three years in jail after being convicted in 1997 of stripping $1.2 billion from Bell Resources.

Bond spent just over three years in jail after being convicted in 1997 of stripping $1.2 billion from Bell Resources.

  • Peter Litras
  • May 28, 2008

Update: Former bankrupt and convicted fraudster Alan Bond has bounced back from financial oblivion to make it on to the list of Australia's richest.
 
Eight years after being released from jail, Mr Bond rejoined the BRW's Rich 200 list in 157th spot, with an estimated wealth of $265 million thanks mainly to his overseas mining interests.

Mr Bond, who was declared bankrupt in 1992, now holds stakes in Madagascar Oil and Lesotho Diamond Corporation, which are at various stages of development.  BRW said it had undertaken an extensive investigation into Mr Bond's fortune, and its valuation of him was the minimum.
 
While Mr Bond is the biggest surprise on the annual roll-call of the country's richest individuals, also notable is the slide by casino and media magnate James Packer from top slot to third, dropping below Fortescue Metals chief Andrew ''Twiggy'' Forrest and Westfield Group co-founder Frank Lowy.
 
Mr Forrest's fortune boomed to an estimated $9.41 billion dollars at the time of the list's completion. That hoard has ballooned beyond  $10 billion this week, driven higher by Mr Forrest's dominant stake in iron-ore miner Fortescue. The company's shares broke the $10-mark for the first time yesterday.
 
Frank Lowy, second on last year's BRW Rich 200, maintains that ranking, although his fortune dropped slightly to $6.30 billion from $6.51 billion last year.
 
Rich list editor John Stensholt said the list reflected continued strength in the mining industry and a "cattle boom''.

Agribusiness barons include Graeme and Evan Acton of Queensland, who have a combined fortune of $211 million, and the McDonald family, which operates a Queensland cattle station, with $209 million.
 
$200-million entry point


About one third of those on the list had fallen in value but the total worth of the top 200 rose to $139.6 billion from $127.6 billion a year ago. To make it on this year's list, the entry point rose to $200 million from $180 million last year.
 
''A big surprise was how bad a year James Packer had on the Australian Stock Exchange,'' Mr Stensholt said.
 
Mr Packer's worth shrank  from $7.25 billion to $6.1 billion after his company Publishing and Broadcasting was split into the Crown casino operator and Consolidated Media Holdings.

It is the first time in 20 years that a Packer has not headed the Rich 200 list.


Australia's richest woman Gina Rinehart is now in fifth, after her fortune rose from $4 billion to $4.39 billion this year, thanks in part to the boom in commodity prices.
 
BRW estimates Ms Rinehart, who dropped from No. 4 last year, may top the list in five years if the resources boom continues and iron ore prices remain strong.

This year's share market retreat has prompted several high-profile business people to drop from the top 200, including ABC Learning founder Eddy Groves and the former executive chairman of Allco Finance Group, David Coe.

Bond rebounds


Mr Bond rejoins the ranks of Australia's wealthiest people after a 19 years hiatus.

He was last on the list in 1989, having previously peaked in 1987 with a fortune of $400 million.

Mr Bond went from signwriter and real estate developer to corporate high-flier before he was convicted in 1997 of the then biggest corporate fraud in Australia's history - stripping $1.2 billion from Bell Resources.

He spent just over three years in jail before his release in 2000.

In an interview with British high-society magazine Tatler about two years ago, Mr Bond said the cash would roll in once his African investments hit paydirt.

''I never lost faith in my ability to climb the mountain again,'' Mr Bond said then.
 
Mountains of money


Mr Forrest's Fortescue only began exporting iron ore to China from its Chichester Range project near Port Hedland in WA earlier this month. His wealth more than doubled in the past year, from $3.89 billion, when he ranked fifth.

Ms Rinehart, the daughter of the late mining magnate Lang Hancock, signed a deal in 2006 with global miner Rio Tinto to develop her Hope Downs iron ore mine in Western Australia.

The youngest person to make the rich list is Nathan Tinkler, who at just 32 years old has amassed $426 million.

Mr Tinkler last week sold his 10.4% stake in Macarthur Coal to predator ArcelorMittal for about $440 million.

The wealthiest list debutants - each worth $991 million - are Travers Duncan and Brian Flannery, from Queensland-based coal miner Felix Resources.

The number of individual billionaires has risen to 38, from 30 last year.

BusinessDay with AAP

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