The Greek shipping tycoons getting rich off Russian oil


In June 2022, Greece’s leading shipowners gathered for a conference at the Four Seasons resort in Vouliagmeni, a wealthy suburb south of Athens.

According to, only three months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a seismic event shaking the global economy, the country’s maritime leaders offered a perspective diverging from the conventional narrative.

In an article published in Forbes and signed by Giacomo Tognini, it is mentioned that George Prokopiou said “This is a tragedy for humanity, but at the same time it creates opportunities,” while Evangelos Marinakis, the tycoon behind shipping firm Capital Maritime and Trading, added “We need to be able to take advantage of these opportunities.”

It is mentioned that during the same forum, themed “Greek Shipping at the Forefront of Global Trade,” Prokopiou ventured a bold projection: “By the end of the year we’ll see very, very good markets in all segments. I’m very optimistic. Ships will command much higher prices.”

That prediction came true, helping propel both Prokopiou, 77, and Marinakis, 56, into the billionaire ranks as the valuation of their maritime assets surged, and the scope of their maritime empires expanded.

Prokopiou and Marinakis, who are worth $2.6 billion and $3.6 billion, respectively, have ordered 123 new ships worth nearly $13 billion since 2022, according to VesselsValue. Prokopiou’s four shipping firms own 173 tankers including those under construction, 54 more than in 2021.

These tycoons are the latest in a line of swashbuckling pioneers hailing back to iconic figures like Aristotle Onassis and Stavros Niarchos.

According to, what’s new about this group, is that the value of their holdings—particularly tankers—has soared by billions of dollars over the past two years, as the war in Ukraine sent shockwaves through global commodities markets and set off a scramble for large tankers needed to ferry oil around the world.

As mentioned, altogether, companies owned by Greek shipping tycoons ordered new ships worth nearly $200 billion and sold 68 older ships for almost $3 billion between January 2022 and March 2024, according to VesselsValue.

Forbes estimates that there are now at least 12 shipping billionaires in Greece, more than at any other time in history. Seven of them are making their debut in Forbes’ billionaire ranks. Altogether they are worth $32 billion—the equivalent of roughly 12% of the country’s gross domestic product.





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