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Mexico's Slim tops Forbes list again; drug lord dropped

March 05, 2013|By Daniel Hernandez
  • The world's two richest people, Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, right, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, speak at the inauguration of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, built with funds from their foundations, in Texcoco, Mexico.
The world's two richest people, Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, right,… (Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP/Getty…)

MEXICO CITY -- Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim is the world's richest man once more, according to a new Forbes list of billionaires, and Mexican drug lord Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman was dropped from the list because his estimated drug profit could not be verified.

Guzman, 55, had been a controversial fixture on the list since 2009.

Forbes said this week that Guzman's whereabouts are unknown, and it was unable to verify his estimated wealth as chief of the Sinaloa cartel, which the magazine called the world's largest drug-trafficking network. Last year, Forbes said Guzman controlled about $1 billion.

Guzman's inclusion on the list had been an embarrassment for the white-collar business and political elites in Mexico. The Mexican edition of the magazine reportedly petitioned Forbes' headquarters to have him removed this year.

"Our numbers show that the increased pressure put on the drug trade by the Mexican drug war suggest that he has to spend more of his money on security and bribes to protect his family," a Forbes writer said.

At the top of the list, Slim and his family have a net worth of about $73 billion, based mostly on telecommunications subsidiaries dominated by America Movil, the largest cellphone carrier in Latin America. (America Movil is known to Mexican customers by the names of the Telmex fixed-line and Telcel cellular carriers.)

The 73-year-old widower appeared on the list at $4 billion wealthier than in 2012, thanks in part to amassed wealth in industrial sectors and in retail, such as the Sanborns department stores.

The distinction comes as Mexico's 3-month-old government has sought to take a stance of control over special interests in the country with last week's arrest of the seemingly untouchable chief of the powerful teachers union, Elba Esther Gordillo.

Leaders of the Institutional Revolutionary Party have made telecommunications reform a top priority early in the term of President Enrique Peña Nieto, stating they plan to boost competition "in all sectors of the economy."

On the billionaire list, Slim is $6 billion wealthier than Microsoft founder Bill Gates, whose second-place net worth is now estimated by the magazine at about $67 billion.

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