What is a bail charge, who holds the record for the most expensive charge ever set, and what did they do to deserve it? Take a look at the world’s highest bail charges below…
Being on bail is when a defendant is released from police custody before a trial takes place. They must follow a strict set of instructions and promise to appear in court when needed, or they could be arrested.
In the US, when the defendant promises to appear in court, they put up collateral payment of money or property, which will be refunded if the defendant goes to their trial. You can be on bail but not have been charged with an offense. In that instance, it means that the authorities are still investigating your case, but they have not yet made a decision.
With all this in mind, what are some of the craziest bail charges ever set? In this article, we explore the top 10 highest bail charges ever recorded and what was done to deserve them.
10. Tiffany Li – $66 Million
This property heiress spent 10 months in jail and posted a $66 million bail in April 2017.
Li and her boyfriend Kaveh Bayat were both arrested as suspects when the father of her children, Keith Green, was found dead on a dirt road. Green was last seen meeting with Li to discuss custody of their children, and his body was discovered only 80 miles away from the restaurant where they met.
It was alleged by prosecutors that Bayat had shot Green in the mouth and then Li hired someone to hide the body. In her defense, Li’s legal team declared that Li and Green had settled their custody dispute and claimed that the murder was a botched kidnapping that Li took no part in.
The case received a huge amount of attention due to it being one of the highest bail charges ever recorded.
9. Christopher Williams – $100 Million
At 18, Christopher Williams had been charged with second-degree murder along with aggravated robbery, unauthorized use of a firearm, and carjacking. These crimes were allegedly all committed whilst he was out on a $35,000 bond.
When in court, Williams promised that he would stay out of trouble if he was given a reasonable bond. In response, the judge said. “I’m going to set a bond so that even if your family wins the lottery, you won’t make the bond.” Williams was set a $100 million bond.
This was because of his past bond jumping, criminal record, unemployment status, and the possibility of long-term jail time if he was convicted.
8. Raj Rajaratnam – $100 Million
In one of the largest cases of insider trading in US history, Raj Rajaratnam was given a $100 million bail after having made over $50 million through illegal trading.
It total, Rajaratnam was found guilty of 14 counts of conspiracy and 7 counts of security fraud. He was fined more than $150 million in criminal and civil penalties and 11 years in prison.
The bail was paid with $2.5 million in cash and the remaining in property and securities.
7. Julius Meinl – $129 Million
Julius Meinl, the chairman of Meinl Bank AG, had to surrender his passport and post $129 million in bail for allegations of mismanagement and fraud.
Meinl’s home and offices were raided as the tempers of retail investors flared due to the performance of investment funds. He was charged with breach of trust, fraud, and overcharging of fees.
Four years later, Meinl got a 90% refund after a successful appeal.
6. Kening Ma – $150 Million
After importing and selling motorcycles with engines that were below standard, and ATV equipment that violated the California Air Resources Board regulations, Kening Ma was set a bail of $150 million.
Working with his wife, Shirley Ji, the pair received over $225 million in bail between the two of them. Ma made a deal with prosecutors to pay restitution to his victims and pleaded no contest to four counts of felony grand theft.
Some believe that part of the reason for this hefty bail was as a warning to other businesses not to violate emission laws.
5. Dmitry Firtash – $174 Million
In 2014, Dmitry Firtash was relaced from prison when he posted a $174 million bail. The Ukrainian businessman had been under investigation for bribery and allegedly forming a criminal organization.
Even after he paid the $174 million, Firtash was held until it could be proven that the money had come from a legal source.
At the time, Firtash had political influence in Ukraine and denied all charges claiming that they were politically motivated. Since his arrest, he has kept out of politics.
4. Michael Milken – $250 Million
In 1980, Michal Milken, who was the highest-paid man on Wall Street at the time, was charged with insider trading, securities fraud, filing false tax returns, and mail fraud. Because of his great wealth, the judge set him a $250 million bail to discourage him from fleeing.
Nine years later, Milken accepted a plea deal for ten years in prison. In the end, he didn’t even spend two years behind bars and, despite being banned from the securities industry, received a presidential pardon from President Trump in 2020.
3. Kim Freeman – $1 billion
A huge $1 billion bail was set for Kim Freeman after she was arrested, along with three others for her part in running two illegal brothels.
Despite not being the one in charge of the operation, the assistant prosecutor argued that all of her connections across Asia and the USA made Freeman a flight risk. Because of this, the judge set the enormous bail to ensure she couldn’t get out of the country. Freeman chose to remain in jail until her court date.
2. Subrata Roy – $1.6 billion
Subrata Roy holds the record for the highest bail amount ever set in India. Roy was charged with contempt of court after failing to pay back investors in his bond scheme. The scheme was ruled to be illegal, and Roy spent nearly two years in jail for non-payment before being let out on parole in 2017.
The $1.6 billion bail was already breaking records but, when you take into account that it was set in India where seventy-two rupees equals the value of one dollar, it was immense.
So far, Roy has only paid back a small portion of his dues.
1. Robert Durst – $3 billion
In our number one spot is the New York real-estate heir, Robert Durst.
In 2004, Durst was accused of murdering his elderly neighbor, Morris Black, and disposing of the body in Galveston Bay, although he claimed it was self-defense. He posted bail and then fled, only to be arrested again two months later for shoplifting.
Despite being acquitted of the murder, Durst was arrested and given a $3 billion bail charge for jumping bail and tampering with evidence.
The $3 billion was lowered after an appeal and eventually became $450k. Even so, the $3 billion is still one of the largest bail charges ever recorded.
Think These Bails Were Harsh?
Do you think the judges were being harsh? Or did the bail charge fit the crime?
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only. Be sure to consult a professional if you want to advise on bails. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.