World’s seventh richest billionaire cautioned for speeding on his own island

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A billionaire tech mogul was cautioned for speeding on a Hawaiian island, despite owning it and running it as his private fiefdom.

Larry Ellison, the seventh richest man in the world, admitted to breaking the law after running a stop sign and exceeding the speed limit in his distinctive orange corvette.

The officer who pulled the co-founder of software giant Oracle was praised for enforcing the rules, despite Mr Ellison owning 98 per cent of Lanai and being the landlord or boss, or both, to almost all the island’s residents.

“Some communities, as we all know, have let the elites just run wild,” Gabe Johnson, a local politician, told Hawaii News Now after bodycam footage of the October incident was released.

“To have one of our own police officers actually treat him like an equal just as everyone should be treated equally under the eyes of the law — I’m proud to say, ‘Nice job’,” he added.

In the footage, Mr Ellison, who is 78, tells the officer he does not have his driving licence with him.

“I was trying to get home for dinner with my kids but there’s no excuse,” he told a policeman who to all intents and purposes is his tenant, “There’s no good excuse.”

Fears island being transformed into playground for ultra-wealthy

Mr Ellison, who is worth an estimated £89 billion, bought 90,000 acre Lanai for £247m more than a decade ago.  

Residents claim that his words and actions carry the force of law because he owns so much property and most of the businesses on the island, including the two Four Seasons resorts that provide most of the jobs on Lanai.

There has also been criticism of the mogul, a major donor to the Republican party, for imposing 30-day leases on premises he rents to small businesses, instead of the five year contracts that were the norm.

Small businesses have been replaced with high-end establishments like restaurant Nobu in the sun-kissed idyll, amid fears locals are being forced off the island which is being transformed into a playground for the ultra-wealthy.

Elon Musk, the Tesla and Twitter tycoon, is a friend of Mr Ellison and has made trips to Lanai.

Tom Cruise was reported to have visited the island, shortly after Mr Ellison, who was born in New York, bought it.

The Hawaiian Island of Lanai

Credit: Ted Soqui/Corbis News

A provision in Mr Ellison’s letting contracts stipulates that residents can be kicked out of their homes if they lose their jobs at one of his companies, Bloomberg news reported earlier this year.

Residents told Bloomberg that Mr Ellison’s companies frequently insist on non-disclosure agreements in their employment contracts. One former Four Seasons employee said they were suspended just for mentioning Mr Cruise had been on the island.

Lanai has mostly been privately owned since the 19th century. Mr Ellison’s wealth, however, far outstrips that of the last owner, who was a fruit and vegetable magnate.

The businessman has spent millions giving the Four Seasons resorts a facelift and the once sleepy island is a magnet for private jets and yachts owned by the mega-rich.

Mr Ellison has also clashed with locals over his plans to pay £4.1 million to expand the runway of Lanai’s only airport, which residents say will only benefit private jet owning visitors while bringing noise pollution to the island.