THE MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF

Radar reveals the unknowns who control our world

When Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim Helu overtook Bill Gates this month to become the richest man in the world, many Americans were taken by surprise. “Carlos who?” they asked skeptically, perplexed by the idea that Mexicans could even make money on the other side of the border.

With $68 billion in assets, Slim’s power and influence are beyond compare in Mexico, where his wealth makes up a startling eight percent of the country’s GDP. Unfortunately, now that his jowly mug has reached nationwide CNN saturation, he’s officially out of contention for our list of the most powerful people you’ve never heard of. But there are plenty more where he came from. From the female Vice Premier of China, to the man who controls the largest private army in the world, Radar presents the unknown power brokers, and the puppet masters who prefer to remain in the shadows.

BOB PERRY

As the man behind the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, millionaire Texas home-builder Bob Perry is perhaps the biggest dark-operator in politics. It was Perry who gave the group $4.5 million to capsize John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid, but the diminutive 74-year-old didn’t make the list for his ability to paint a decorated Vietnam vet as an opportunistic fake. It’s his distinction as the largest individual political donor in the country that raises our brow. Perry gave $29 million to politicians and their causes in 2004 and 2006, and as one might expect from a millionaire Texas Republican, the vast majority of that money went to factions pushing his pet issues: tort reform and the fight against abortion and gay marriage. Surprisingly, Perry is also an ardent supporter of affirmative action, and is a major benefactor to minority scholarships and several foreign orphanages.