SINGAPORE (Apr 9): Ivar Krueger, dubbed the Match King, used to kiss women on the wrist when introduced, and not on the hand. He was afraid of germs.

A man of piercing intellect, he helped pioneer safety matches — then used for lighting everything from stoves to cigarettes. His companies produced almost three quarters of the world’s matches.

But Krueger was also a swindler. His empire was built on fictitious sales, which collapsed in the wake of the Great Depression, leading to his suicide in 1932. It was said that he burned through — in today’s money — US$1.5 billion ($2.14 billion) of financier’s funds.

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