Move over Madoff, Evergrande might have delivered the new king of fraud

While Madoff has remained the top household name for financial fraud for the past 16 years, it may finally be time to anoint a new fraud king: the former head of Evergrande, Hui Ka Yan.

Evergrande collapsed in 2021 after three years of being the largest and most valuable real estate company in the world. The success of the company also briefly made Hui the wealthiest individual in China.

But as the Chinese real estate market began to falter, the books for Evergrande looked more and more cooked, and by 2023, the company was bankrupt and facing liquidation.

Read more: A year on from the US regional banking crisis, what’s changed?

Inflation-Adjusted Fraud means Madoff Keeps Crown

While the $78 billion fraud claim being leveled against Evergrande and Hui Ka Yan is significantly larger than the $65 billion fraud that Madoff accomplished over decades, it is actually a much smaller amount when adjusted for inflation. 

In this case, after the adjustment, Madoff’s fraud would amount to just under $100 billion and Ken Lay’s Enron would be far greater than both Madoff or Evergrande, amounting to a shocking $112 billion fraud in 2024 dollars.

Other frauds of this gigantic proportion include the collapse of WorldCom and the over-leveraged hedge fund Long Term Capital Management, however, these barely come close to Evergrande, Enron, or Madoff, only accounting for ~$20 billion and $7 billion in 2024 dollars, respectively.

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