By Ryan Velez
Kjell Inge Roekke may not come across as the poster boy for charity for those who have heard of him. As the 10th richest man in Norway, he has a $2 billion net worth and a reputation for being ruthless in business. It may be a surprise then that he has pledged to give away most of his wealth in ways that stand to benefit society, reports Celebrity Net Worth. Among these is a state-of-the-art ship designed to remove up of five tons of plastic each day from the ocean.
Recently, Roekke told Oslo newspaper Afenposten: “I want to give back to society the bulk of what I’ve earned. This ship is a part of it. The idea of such a ship has evolved over many years.” While the exact cost of the ship hasn’t been disclosed yet, Roekke disclosed that it would have sea and air drones, an auditorium, and large lab spaces. Managed by the World Wildlife Fund and known as REV (Research Expeditionary Vessel) this ship will have quite the task trying to deal with plastic garbage in the world’s oceans.
The 55-year-old Roekke is well known for his path to wealth, which is quite unconventional, especially in his native Norway. Born in a small town on the country’s west coast, he dropped out of high school, partially due to his dyslexia. After leaving school, Roekke went to Seattle to become a fisherman, catching pollock and crab. He worked on fishing trawlers in Alaska before moving up and turning old boats into industrial grade trawlers. In the 1980’s he would come to own and operate American Seafoods Company and Resource Group International, which owned Brooks Sports.
In the mid-1990’s, Roekke would return to Norway, buying a 173-year-old Norwegian conglomerate by buying 40% of its shares. He then moved to merge the established company with his Resource Group International. The move gave him a ruthless reputation across Norway, using American-style tactics to reach his corporate goals. He also became noted for his explosive temper, a trait rarely seen among his fellow countrymen.
At one point, Roekke actually spent 23 days in prison for trying to obtain a boating license via bribes. After leaving jail, he spent $3,000 on pizza for all his former cellmates. Clearly, charity takes many forms.