Brazilian oil tycoon Eike Batista. Image courtesy of The Economist/Youtube.

Brazilian oil tycoon Eike Batista said Thursday his net worth has plunged to negative $1 billion as his business empire collapses amid the bankruptcy of exploration company OGX and a recently launched market manipulation and insider trading investigation.

Batista, formerly the richest man in Brazil with an estimated net worth of $30 billion, was charged with financial crimes last week by federal prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro.

Batista, 57, is accused of misleading investors by making overly optimistic statements about OGX’s Campos Basin assets and not following through with a $1 billion investment as the company failed.

Most of the Campos fields never came close to meeting production targets and four of the fields were declared non-commercial.

Batista is also accused of insider trading, having sold off his OGX shares as the company’s problems mounted.

A Brazilian judge froze $639 million of Batista’s assets including $50 million investigators found in his bank accounts, Reuters said.

The frozen assets could be used to pay compensation for any losses Batista is found culpable for.

OGX’s bankruptcy sent Batista’s other holdings into a spiral. Another of Batista’s companies has filed for bankruptcy and other companies are selling off key assets and controlling stakes, the Wall Street Journal said.

Batista has denied any wrongdoing.

If convicted Batista could face up to 13 years in prison.


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