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From Bitcoin To Bezos, The 18 Best Forbes Stories Of 2018

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From unearthing crypto-billionaires to exposing financial shenanigans, in chronological order, Forbes’ 18 greatest hits of 2018.


February 7

Forbes’ First List Of Cryptocurrency’s Richest: Meet The Secretive Freaks, Geeks And Visionaries Minting Billions From Bitcoin Mania

The craziest bubble ever has created billion-dollar fortunes. Meet the freaks, geeks and messianic visionaries who scored cryptocurrency riches.

When Forbes set out to find the richest people in crypto, we knew the technology’s decentralized nature—and the wild valuation swings—would make it a tall task. But with blockchain technology here to stay, it’s safe to say some of these names will be around for a long time to come. “We had to draw on a wide range of experience and skills, from our decades-long work valuing private companies to new tricks for analyzing digital wallets,” says Staff Writer Jeff Kauflin. “It was the most challenging reporting I’ve ever done.”

March 6

Richer Than Oprah: How The Nation’s Wealthiest African-American Conquered Tech And Wall Street

The American Dream is alive and well on Wall Street thanks to Robert Smith, the richest black person in America, who has figured out a way to reengineer both private equity and enterprise software—and used this secret playbook to build a $4.4 billion fortune.

“I spent two years trying to get Robert Smith to speak with me about his business,” Senior Editor Nathan Vardi says. “He was clearly the most interesting story in private equity, but he was reluctant to speak. He finally agreed to meet me in Miami on a Saturday in January with his partner, Brian Sheth. Once we finally got to talking, Robert just went on and on. It was one of my favorite interviews in 20 years as a reporter.”

April 3

Venture Catalysts: The 36 Women Secretly Breaking Up Silicon Valley’s Old Boys’ Club

Angered and frustrated by tech’s suffocating old boys’ club, a group of elite venture capitalists are channeling emotion into action. Their weapons—investing and entrepreneurship—provide a blueprint for how to transform any crusty industry from the inside out.

“When I first got a cryptic email from one of the founders of All Raise in December 2017, the group didn’t have a name, and no one knew who was involved outside the group, but I still got that tingling any reporter knows when they sense they’re on the track of a special story,” says Associate Editor Alex Konrad. Adds staff writer Biz Carson: “It wasn’t until we sat down with group and shadowed them that I realized both the depth and scale of their ambitions.”

April 19

The Last Days Of Banking Heir Matthew Mellon

Matthew Mellon’s death in Mexico raises many unanswered questions, including what will happen to the estimated $500 million of XRP digital currency he owned. “I am trying to live a responsible life,” he told Forbes earlier this year.

“When I spoke to banking heir Matthew Mellon in January 2018, it was clear that his large holding of the cryptocurrency XRP made him feel vindicated. He told me he was fighting his substance-abuse demons and was proud to have personally earned a fortune,” Vardi recalls. “Three months later, Mellon was dead. He died in Mexico, where he was experimenting with hallucinatory therapies that are illegal in the U.S. It was sad reporting on the days leading up to his death.” 

May 2

Mark Zuckerberg-Connected Charity At Risk Of Implosion

Quietly, without fanfare, an under-the-radar foundation in Silicon Valley has grown to become larger than household names like the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. But despite the outward appearance of success at the charity, which has focused on growth in assets above all else, inner turmoil abounds.

“The sad irony of this story is that the Silicon Valley Community Foundation was set up to support groups helping those in need in the Valley, and it ended up being an awful place to work for so many people,” says Assistant Managing Editor Kerry Dolan. In June, after substantiating claims of sexual and workplace harassment by the charity’s number two executive that helped lead to an “unhealthy workplace environment,” the foundation’s board announced that CEO Emmett Carson was out.

May 14

A Billion-Dollar Fortune From Timber And Fire

From humble beginnings traipsing through California’s vast forests with his dad to salvaging wood from forest fires, Red Emmerson has built a logging empire by being cheaper and more aggressive than his rivals.

“I spent days driving through public land that Sierra Pacific Industries had logged after a forest fire and couldn’t possibly have prepared for how apocalyptic these areas looked,” Staff Writer Chloe Sorvino says. “It was simply shocking.” 

June 12

Runaway Billionaire: Meet The CEO Whose Company Descended Into Fraud, Embezzlement and Betrayal

Bill Austin built a fortune from medical devices, then set out on a crusade to help the poor hear. But while he was off hanging with movie stars and rock gods, his company descended into a cesspool of fraud, embezzlement and betrayal. A cautionary tale of a second act to do good—gone woefully bad.

Staff Writer Michela Tindera went to Minneapolis to hear billionaire Bill Austin’s witness testimony against former executives he accused of stealing more than $20 million from his company. “There was hardly a dull moment during his days-long testimony,” Tindera says. “Austin knows how to captivate an audience.” And the story has kept evolving in the months since. Just a few days ago the former president of the company was sentenced to seven years in prison.

July 19

The Inside Story Of Papa John’s Toxic Culture

Papa John’s founder John Schnatter’s alleged behavior ranges from spying on his workers to sexually inappropriate conduct, which has resulted in at least two confidential settlements.

“The entire story started when I received a tip on Twitter—from someone unaffiliated with Papa John’s—who sent me a link to a 1999 lawsuit against John Schnatter. I figured it was worth a few calls to former employees. I heard enough during those conversations to keep reporting and ultimately reached out to more than 150 people,” Reporter Noah Kirsch says. “After we published, Schnatter resigned as chairman, and two other executives mentioned in the piece have since been pushed out. If nothing else, this story reveals the power of individuals who speak up.”

August 7

New Details About Wilbur Ross’ Business Point To Pattern Of Grifting

If even half of the accusations are legitimate, the current United States secretary of commerce could rank among the biggest grifters in American history.

“I’ve been writing about Wilbur Ross for about a year now, covering all sorts of financial shenanigans involving millions of dollars. But a lot of that stuff is hard to understand. I’m convinced this story caught people’s attention because of one simple detail: Former colleagues said the commerce secretary used to steal Sweet’N Low packets. Everyone knows a guy like that,” says Associate Editor Dan Alexander.

July 11

How 20-Year-Old Kylie Jenner Built A $900 Million Fortune In Less Than 3 Years

Not even 21, Kylie Jenner has built a $900 million cosmetics fortune, with virtually no employees, capital or expertise. This new model of extreme fame leverage is radically reshaping business, culture and politics.

“The Kylie Jenner story involved a lot of driving,” recalls Associate Editor Natalie Robehdemed. “Sixty miles to Oxnard, California, to peek around the laboratories where Kylie Cosmetics are produced. And 30 miles to Kris Jenner’s home for an interview with Kylie and Kris at her palatial white home.”

“Fittingly, I was driving and listening to the radio when I first heard Travis Scott’s (now multi-platinum) single “Sicko Mode,” in which he references the controversy caused by Jenner’s Forbes cover. I did not expect the story to create as much of a stir as it did—I thought folks would be interested by the structure of her barebones business, but the backlash it received from critics who disputed Jenner’s self-made status was fascinating. I think the story sparked a necessary conversation about wealth and status in America and shined a spotlight on the way social media is shaping our economy and society.”  

July 12

Meet The Unknown Immigrant Billionaire Betting Her Fortune To Take On Musk In Space

Eren Ozmen and her husband spent the last quarter a century carefully building Sierra Nevada from a tiny, 20-person defense firm into a multibillion-dollar aerospace concern. Now she’s betting their fortunes on the billionaire space race.

“Ozmen and her husband had never done an in-person interview before, but the minute we sat down for drinks the storytelling began. Ozmen worked as a night janitor and sold baklava to put herself through grad school and went on to build a multibillion dollar aerospace and defense company with husband Fatih,” says Staff Writer Lauren Debter. “Their sense of patriotism was what perhaps struck me the most and was the lone reason given for why they have spent three decades equipping the U.S. military and now are helping America reestablish its leadership in space.” 

July 18

An Unlikely Group Of Billionaires And Politicians Has Created The Most Unbelievable Tax Break Ever

The never-told story of how an unlikely group of billionaires and politicians quietly passed a law that revolutionizes investment in struggling regions—and offers one of the greatest tax-avoidance opportunities in American history.

“I ping-ponged from the heart of Silicon Valley, to the inner chambers of Republican and Democratic Senators, to long neglected neighbors in Charleston, South Carolina, and Newark, New Jersey,” says Senior Editor Steven Bertoni. “The response was as varied and far-flung as the research, drawing questions and curiosity from a diverse range of readers across regions and industries: wealth managers and lawyers, builders and fledging founders—all looking for ways to get into the Opportunity Zone action.” 

September 4

Bezos Unbound: Exclusive Interview With The Amazon Founder On What He Plans To Conquer Next

America’s most innovative—and feared—business leader is coming off a three-year run that has him the richest person of all time. Now he tells Forbes he’s only begun to grow. Corporate America, you’ve been warned.

Forbes’ chief content officer sat down with the richest man in the world to talk Amazon’s unprecedented ascent. Bezos’ innovative growth plan should give every CEO in every field pause: “The market size is unconstrained.”

September 18

How Roblox Is Training The Next Generation Of Gaming Entrepreneurs

Millions of tweens play video games on Roblox’s website. That’s not unusual for a social gaming unicorn. What is unusual: teaching kids the rudiments of coding and paying them like entrepreneurs.

“My favorite part of reporting this story was tagging along with a group of kids and their parents on a tour of Roblox HQ. To me, things didn’t look much different than the office of any other software development company—but for the kids, it was like touring Willy Wonka’s factory,” says Associate Editor Alex Knapp. 

September 26

Exclusive: WhatsApp Cofounder Brian Acton Gives The Inside Story On #DeleteFacebook And Why He Left $850 Million Behind

Facebook’s blockbuster $22 billion WhatsApp purchase instantly made Brian Acton one of the richest people in America. But as with his Instagram peers, his idealism clashed with Mark Zuckerberg’s financial juggernaut, leading to perhaps the most expensive moral stand in history. For the first time, Acton explains why he walked away from $850 million.

“Putting the story together was a stressful process,” says Staff Writer Parmy Olson. “We knew it was going to shine a negative light on the inner workings of Facebook and reveal some new information—for instance, that Facebook misled European regulators about its intentions to link user accounts. But the public reaction was incredible, from dozens of news articles to praise on social media for Brian Acton’s brutal honesty to a public rant from one of Facebook’s top executives. Since then, there have been more revelations about Facebook’s data practices that underscore why our interviewee quit when he did.”

October 2

How Trump Is Trying—And Failing—To Get Rich Off His Presidency

Donald Trump’s White House tenure—and his polarizing politics—has actually dented his net worth. But it’s not for a lack of trying to cash in.

“Ever since Donald Trump entered the Oval Office, the whole country has been wondering whether he was making money on the presidency or not, and this was the first story to really answer that question,” says Alexander. “We dug deep,” adds Associate Editor Chase Peterson-Withorn. “We interviewed nearly 200 of Trump’s colleagues, partners and industry observers since the election. Ultimately we came away with a fascinating—and counterintuitive—result.”

October 10

Exclusive: In-N-Out Billionaire Lynsi Snyder Opens Up About Her Troubled Past And The Burger Chain’s Future

At 36, billionaire heiress Lynsi Snyder has already struggled through her father’s tragic death, three failed marriages and a battle with alcohol and marijuana. The devout Christian eventually found stability running In-N-Out, her family’s quintessential West Coast burger chain, and now she’s determined to protect it at all costs.

“Lynsi Snyder rarely lets journalists into her world. I expected her to be a bit guarded. But she opened up almost immediately about what she’s gone through,” says Sorvino. “I was surprised when she started tearing up while speaking about her father’s legacy, but soon realized that’s where her strength lies as a leader—in sharing her vulnerability with others. It’s only made her a stronger president. In-N-Out’s cult following is all the better for it.” 

November 19

How A Mysterious Tech Billionaire Created Two Fortunes—And A Global Software Sweatshop

Two decades ago, Joe Liemandt became the youngest member of The Forbes 400 by building a software juggernaut. He’s quietly bigger than ever, with a far darker model.

“Joe Liemandt is the J.D. Salinger of software,” Senior Editor Nathan Vardi says. “He disappeared from public view after being a tech celebrity in the 1990s. But I discovered he had spent the last decade building a massive software empire, buying U.S. software companies and turning them into cash machines by replacing employees with closely monitored foreign contract workers paid by the hour,” says Vardi. “In reporting on Liemandt, I felt I was getting a glimpse into the future of skilled labor.”

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Mysterious Object Under Moon’s Largest Crater Found By Scientists

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An unknown, mysterious mass has been found beneath a crater on the moon,  according to researchers at Baylor University—and it may give scientists clues into how the moon was shaped.

  • Researchers discovered an unknown anomaly roughly five times the size of Hawaii’s largest island.
  • The mass is sitting beneath one of the largest preserved craters in the solar system, the South Pole-Aitken basin.
  • A plausible guess by scientists: The mass is a piece of metal left behind nearly 4 million years ago by the asteroid that formed the crater.

The mysterious mass sits more than 300 km (186 miles) underneath the solar system’s largest crater. The crater isn’t visible to the naked eye because it’s on the far side of the moon, which always faces away from Earth.

While the researchers who discovered the mass don’t know what it is or where it came from, computer simulations suggest that, under the right conditions, a large asteroid’s iron-nickel core could have been embedded inside the moon upon impact almost 4 million years ago.

Another possibility, according to researchers, is that the mass consists of oxides left over from when the moon was changing from a large ocean of molten magma to what it is today.

-Rachel Sandler; Forbes Staff

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Why Mitsubishi Heavy May Want Bombardier’s Money-Losing CRJ Regional Jet Line

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Bombardier may be close to completing its exit from the airliner business, confirming Wednesday morning that it’s holding talks with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to sell its once-mighty CRJ regional jet line. For Mitsubishi Heavy, which has struggled to make the climb from an aircraft component supplier to a jet maker, the deal may be less about the money-losing CRJ than acquiring its extensive service network.

Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Heavy is years behind schedule on the MRJ, a twin-engine regional jet that was initially expected to be launched in 2013 with Japanese airline ANA. With certification of the 90-seat version believed to be on track for 2020, acquiring the competing CRJ program would solve the knottiest remaining problem for Mitsubishi: product support and maintenance, says Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with Teal Group. “They have no experience at that, and no infrastructure,” he says.

The sale talks were first reported by The Air Current.

Montreal-based Bombardier created the regional jet market in 1989 when it launched the CRJ, which was a stretched, 50-seat version of the Challenger business jet that it had acquired a few years prior when it first got into aerospace by buying the struggling aircraft maker Canadair from the Canadian government. With jet fuel cheap in the 1990s, U.S. airlines snapped up the CRJ to replace propeller-driven planes on short-haul routes serving smaller cities. Bombardier has sold 1,950 CRJs, but sales slowed in the early 2000s as oil prices climbed and airline consolidation shrank route networks.

Bombardier had 51 outstanding orders for the aging airframe as of March 31, a backlog that should be worked through by 2020. Bombardier refreshed the CRJ in recent years with a new cabin design, but its seventies-vintage General Electric engines are inefficient by modern standards, and it’s not clear if the plane could be retrofitted with newer ones.

What’s kept sales trickling along has been the persistence of so-called “scope clauses” in U.S. airlines’ labor contracts with their pilots, which restrict the major carriers from contracting with regional airlines for flights of planes above 76 seats and a maximum takeoff weight of 86,000 pounds. With the MRJ, Mitsubishi made a losing bet that the scope clauses would be relaxed by the time it came into service: the MRJ90 is too big to be used in the U.S. now. Embraer made the same miscalculation with its new E2 regional jet line.

Mitsubishi has been working on a 70-seat version, but that project is reportedly going through a redesign that could delay it until 2023.

United and Delta pilots are negotiating new contracts, and American and Southwest’s agreements are up in 2020, but it’s unclear whether the airlines will be able to win relaxation of the scope clause restrictions.   

It’s also unclear whether Mitsubishi would want to keep producing the CRJ, scope clauses or no, given its unprofitability. The company could choose to fulfill current orders and wind it down, says Aboulafia.

Beyond the CRJ maintenance network, Mitsubishi could benefit from adding experienced engineers from the Bombardier program who could aid in developing the MRJ and in the complicated regulatory certification process.

Bombardier filed a lawsuit against Mitsubishi in October, alleging that former Bombardier employees had supplied it with trade secrets that would help the MRJ gain certification.

A sale of the CRJ line would be the sunset of an era of ambition for Bombardier, a snowmobile maker that expanded into rail in the 1970s and aviation in the 1980s with a series of acquisitions, but stumbled badly earlier this decade with an attempt to challenge Airbus and Boeing by developing a 100- to 130-seat jet, the CSeries, that almost bankrupted the company.

CEO Alain Bellemare, who came aboard in 2015, has sold off assets and raised new debt and equity to pare Bombardier’s heavy debt load, aiming to slim the company down to its strongholds in business jets and trains.  

In 2018, Bombardier gave away a majority share in the CSeries to Airbus, which has rebranded it the A220. Airbus has the option to buy full control in 2025. This week Bombardier closed the sale of its Q Series regional turboprop line to Longview Capital, and last month it announced that it would sell an aerostructures factory in Morocco and its Northern Ireland unit, which developed innovative composite resin technology used to make the wings for the A220.

For the CRJ program, Bombardier could fetch a similar price to its sale of the Q Series, which netted $250 million, says analyst Christopher Murray of AltaCorp Capital, and a deal could allow it to offload other contingent liabilities.

Bombardier shares rose 8.9% Wednesday morning to 2.14 Canadian dollars on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The stock tumbled 20% in late April after the company cut its 2019 sales and profit outlook due to delays and quality issues on multiple contracts at its rail unit. Bombardier said during its first-quarter earnings call last month that it would no longer commit to previously announced financial goals for 2020, including raising sales to $20 billion.

-Jeremy Bogaisky;Forbes Staff

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A Tale Of Two Presidents And One Phone Call To Freedom

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A month before South Africa’s elections, one of the country’s leading political figures exposed a number of his former comrades for corruption with evidence to the Zondo Commission on State Capture. It was box office material, yet just another eventful period in the turbulent life of Robert McBride – guerrilla fighter, policeman and death row prisoner.


Robert McBride has one of those faces full of character that looks like it has endured life as much as lived it. A glance through his tough years of struggle yields a list of reasons why: five years on death row to screams and tears of the condemned; scores of beatings over decades; shooting his way out of hospital; years of the shadowy and violent life of an underground guerrilla fighter.

McBride was born in Wentworth, just outside Durban, in 1963, and grew up amid racist insults and violence. It swiftly politicised him and he was taken into the military wing of the African National Congress where he carried out sabotage with explosives.

Even by the standards of the desperate days of the gun in South Africa, McBride’s political activity is remarkable. In 1986, McBride fought his way out of an intensive care ward in a bizarre rescue of his childhood friend and fellow fighter Gordon Webster. It happened at Edendale Hospital in Durban where Webster lay, with tubes in his body, under police guard.

McBride posed as a doctor, with an AK47 hidden in his white coat; his father, Derrick, was dressed as a priest with a Makarov pistol under his cassock. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard, in 1999, that hospital staff cheered them on and held back an armed policeman as the McBrides shot their way out, pushing the wounded Webster to freedom on a trolley.        

Thirty-three-years on, McBride went into battle again for his beliefs, this time with words and documents, against a more insidious and formidable foe than armed police – corruption. He gave evidence before the Zondo Commission, in Johannesburg, springing from his days as head of IPID, the independent police investigators.

He spent more than four days on the stand – longer than most cricket matches last these days. He told of missing police evidence, claims of sinister moves to remove corruption busters and the misappropriation of money, under a cloak of secrecy, by the crime intelligence agencies.    

“People don’t like me because of my anti-corruption stance, their dislike of me I wear as a badge of honour. Those who dislike me for other reasons, it is a free country and you are entitled to your likes and dislikes. I have no problem with you. But wherever I am, I will do my work and will always be against corruption. I understand how corruption affects the ordinary man and means there is so much less to go around,” he says.   

To give a little more context, McBride’s erstwhile job went with unpopularity. The head of IPID is a post that politicians, plus probably more than a few disgruntled policemen, wanted him out of. They ended his contract and he assures me he is going to court to get his job back. His stance may give clues as to why some wanted to see the back of him.

“I have spoken loudly every time I have seen something wrong and raised unpopular issues. Some of the issues we picked up early on was police involvement in cash-in-transit robberies… The looting of police funds, the corruption, the wastage and the leverage, we then began to understand it; the leverage that some policeman have over politicians… Any criminal syndicate that is operating requires police to help them otherwise they will be found out in the normal course of events,” says McBride, the month before the hearing.

“Rogue activity by certain elements in the prosecuting authority, the willingness to prosecute people for non-criminal acts and unwillingness to prosecute when there is a pile of evidence…We will also speak about the abuse of state funds, the abuse of power by the police by negating investigations. Most of our evidence is backed up by court papers, evidence and affidavits,” he says.

Many activists who saw the nasty, ugly, side of the struggle often are the first to come down, hard, when they feel freedoms they fought for are being abused. You could argue McBride, an intelligent thinker, is very much one of them.

You could also argue that McBride has been cut adrift by many former comrades and demonized as the Magoo’s Bar bomber – the 1986 car bomb on the Durban beachfront that killed three and wounded scores. Others, on both sides of the South African struggle, who issued orders, or did worse, are undisturbed and anonymous by their swimming pools. Any regrets? I ask.

“It’s like asking me ‘do I regret living in a free and democratic country’, the answer can’t be yes… We would have preferred that things went differently. If you are in an armed struggle, you are the cause of hurt to other people and as a political activist, as a revolutionary you can defend that and justify it.

“But as a human being, you know that when it concerns other people, it is not the right thing to do to cause the hurt of other people. I have expressed myself as a human being on this, not because I was trying to elicit any sympathy or anything; I have never asked for redemption, I have never asked for forgiveness. Those who know me know what I am about and those who understand the circumstances in the early 1980s when we became active; those who are old enough to remember that was what the circumstances were.”

Those circumstances recede further into the darkness of memory of democratic South Africa every year, yet, in the minds of those who suffered, it stays pin sharp. McBride spent five years on death row, in Pretoria, after being sentenced to the gallows for the Durban bombings.

He reckons the prison hanged more than 300 prisoners in this time. Through the cell door, he heard the condemned screaming and crying as warders dragged the condemned along the passages to their fate. The hanging warders used to bring back the bloody hoods from the gallows and force the next batch of condemned men to wash them.

In May 1990, the sun shone as hope visited death row in Pretoria. The prison management summoned McBride and a group of fellow condemned activists, to the main office at the maximum security prison. Each were given green prison jackets – the garb of special occasions. Warders drove them, in a van, to a distant part of the prison and all feared they were either going to be executed or allowed to escape and shot in the back.

“We were told not to talk and then we were put in this big room with a steel of security around the room and after about 45 minutes the former president (Mandela) walked in and it was the most beautiful sight on earth; the greatest feeling ever and when he walks in, he says: ‘Ah, Robert! How are you!’ As if he knew me forever. It was the most important meeting I had in my life. It was like a God-like environment. He gave us a rundown of negotiations and what can be expected and that we must not worry, we must be patient and sit tight, he knows all of our backgrounds and will do his utmost to get us released and we will never be forgotten.”

It took more than two more years, in the shadow of the noose… until a fateful Friday. September 25, 1992. McBride will never forget the date.

“Round about half past four in the afternoon, I got a call to come to the office, I didn’t know what it was about, and when I came there, the head of the prison said: ‘You have a phone call’. It was my first phone call in prison. On the other end of the line was comrade Cyril Ramaphosa and he says: ‘Hi chief’. I keep quiet and then he says: ‘Monday’. I say: ‘What’s happening Monday chief?’ He keeps quiet, then he says: ‘You are going home!’ There was a bit of a smile you could feel in his voice,” says McBride with a huge smile on his face.

Long after Mandela had completed his long walk to freedom for his country, McBride was to yet again hear the click of a prison key and feel the pain from a warder’s boot.

It was the summer of 1998 and in Maputo, the sea was warm and the prawns were hot. The police in Mozambique picked up McBride, then a high-ranking official in foreign affairs, on alleged gun running charges that appeared to be trumped up to us journalists. We scoured the streets of the capital, for weeks, in search of witnesses.

McBride argued that he was on an undercover operation for the National Intelligence Agency trying to uncover gun runners who were flooding neighbouring South Africa with illegal weapons and fuelling crime; a counter that eventually set him free.

Despite this, McBride spent six months in the capital’s notorious, grim, Machava maximum security prison, where he told me violence was meted out.

I covered that story for many months and came within a split ace of interviewing McBride in his cell. We spent hours plying the Portuguese-speaking warders with beer and the story, through an interpreter, that we were friends visiting from South Africa and we just wanted to say hello. We told them our friend was a big man in South Africa.

“He is a small man now,” smiled back one of the warders icily.

We convinced the guards and as they moved towards the prison doors, keys in hand, our cover was blown. One of the not too bright colleagues from our TV station strolled into the prison waving his press card.

“Hello Chris!” says he. The none-too-pleased prison guards threw us out.

I had to wait more than 20 years for my interview with McBride.

A phrase I always remembered from those many hot, crazy, days in Maputo was a quote we got from the late presidential spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa when McBride went behind bars yet again.

“He is a tough guy who can look after himself,” said Mamoepa.

The Zondo Commission and scores of corrupt policemen last month found out how tough.  

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