Is Vladimir Putin the world's richest man?

Russia, Vladimir Putin
The Russian president is reportedly worth more than $266 billion. Photo credit: File

When you think of the world's richest people, you think of Bill Gates who is worth NZD $120 billion or Warren Buffet who is worth more than NZD $99 billion.

However, Russian president Vladimir Putin is reportedly worth more than NZD $266 billion.

US-based Hermitage Capital Management Founder Bill Browder believes the Russian leader is the richest man in the world.

He made the claim during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in the United States last week, testifying during the Senate's probe into Russian affairs during the 2016 presidential election, according to reports.

Mr Browder is considered to be well-informed when it comes to Mr Putin's business dealings and told Fortune he made major investments in Russia during the 1990's.

Mr Browder says Mr Putin made his money by convincing Russian investors to simply hand over large amounts of their holdings to the leader.

According to Fortune, Mr Putin has also put a lot of effort into reversing the Magnitsky Act, put in place by US officials in 2012 to track down and punish Russian officials who are accused of murdering a lawyer and auditor who was looking into Russian-state fraud, because some of those officials reportedly hold some of Mr Putin's fortune. 

CBS, Russia
Bill Browder appeared on CBS This Morning. Photo credit: CBS

"Let's just look at it very simply," Mr Browder told CBS.

"Vladimir Putin wants to get rid of this act that's going to sanction his assets. It's his top priority." 

Mr Browder who has since become a critic of the Russian state has even clashed with Mr Putin's officials who have threatened him on a number occasions.