By Ryan Velez
Many people would fear that those with high levels of wealth, whether they inherited it or made it themselves, would largely concern themselves with maintaining their wealth or making sure they don’t lose it. While this is certainly the case, a recent article from Celebrity Net Worth shows that some of the fears of the extremely rich stem from other places. A recent statement from Ian Bremmer, founder and President of Eurasia group, says the biggest fear for ultra-high-net-worth individuals with over $30 million or more in assets is not economic. Rather, they are fearing for their own safety.
In a world where financial inequality is growing by leaps and bounds, the rich are finding themselves being targeted, and are being forced to make precautions against kidnapping by unscrupulous individuals looking to access parts of their fortunes. Part of these facts was exposed in last May’s Panama Papers leak, a massive database of 200,000 companies, trusts, funds, and foundations incorporated into 21 tax havens where the richest hid their wealth. On top of this, the wealth gap was put into clear focus by a recent Oxfam report saying that eight men held as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population. The charity described this as “obscene” and asked for both a crackdown on tax avoidance and excessive pay and bonuses for company executives.
Regardless of your feelings on whether or not these individuals deserve their wealth or are using it to benefit others, it is clear that when such inequality exists, resentment will grow, and this can only lead to desperate acts. In some places, the kidnapping fears are well-founded. India is one example of a place where the risk has already become a reality. Children of the super-rich are treated as bargaining chips for ransom money, and if the money is not paid, the children could possibly be killed. In fact, the Economist recently highlighted a trend of “quickie kidnapping.” This is when kidnappers abduct children, demand a ransom, and get their money within two hours. Stateside millionaires don’t necessarily have as much to worry about, as kidnapping incidence is much lower. However, the ultra-wealthy still have plenty to worry about regarding their safety, as the external factors leading to these incidents show no sign of going away.