TIMELINES: What Mexican billionaire was kidnapped on March 14, 1994, and held for 106 days?

March 14, 2012 Updated: September 29, 2015

Wednesday, Mar. 14, 2012


March 14, 1994, Mexican billionaire banker Alfredo Harp Helu is kidnapped and held by his captors for 106 days. At the time, there are approximately 1,000 kidnappings per year in Mexico. Due to Helu’s status, his kidnapping immediately becomes a high-profile event. His captors initially ask for a $100 million ransom and later lower it to $30 million. Mere minutes before the deadline approaches, his family announces it will pay an undisclosed ransom on a popular television program, as demanded by the kidnappers. Helu, president of Mexico’s largest financial institution, is listed on the 1993 Forbes magazine billionaires list.


Last week, Mexico’s Carlos Slim Helu—cousin of Alfredo Harp Helu—and family with a net worth of $69 billion were named the world’s wealthiest in the Forbes’s 25th annual survey. Unlike his cousin Alfredo, who acquired his wealth in banking, 72-year-old Carlos Slim made his fortune in telecommunications as the chairman of Mexico’s Telmex. Following Helu on the list of the world’s richest are Americans Bill Gates and Warren Buffett worth respectively $61 billion and $44 billion.