At an age when most people begin their business careers, German Sterligov was already a millionaire. He was only 24 years old when he founded the company that would make him one of the richest men in Russia. The financial empire he built – with offices in London and New York – ensured a lifetime of comfort for the young man. But his life today is the opposite of everything you’d imagine – after 15 years of fame and riches, he gave it all up in for the quiet life of a peasant living in the woods.
Sterligov’s life story is as interesting as it is unusual. Inspite of having been a very rich and powerful man, the 47-year-old feels that he is now far better placed to withstand the global economic crisis than most of the other Russian oligarchs. “I’m in clover compared to them,” he said in an interview, a few years ago. “I’m free here. I don’t depend on anyone and we’re totally self sufficient. Most of my friends thought I had taken leave of my senses but I think I have been proved right.”
In the early 1990s, as the Communist era was fading, Sterligov set up Russia’s first commodities exchange. The business grew quickly, and he soon became Russia’s first legal millionaire since the 1917 Revolution. At one point, he had over 2,500 employees and was getting along quite well with the Americans as a ‘new type’ of Russian. In the mid-2000s, at the helm of his success, he stunned the world by announcing his intention to run for the Russian presidency.