The number of billionaires being given a role in the Trump administration continues to
grow. On Monday the president-elect announced his pick for Secretary of the Army:
Vincent Viola, the founder of electronic-trader Virtu Financial who Forbes estimates to
be worth $1.8 billion.
If confirmed by the Senate, Viola will essentially serve as the CEO of the Department
of the Army, which operates under the Department of Defense. Here are five key
things to know about the man who may be the next manager of Army policies,
programs and budgets:
He is a veteran: The son of a truck driver, Viola grew up in Brooklyn and was the first
member of his family to attend college. He graduated from West Point in 1977 and
served in the 101st Airborne Division before eventually attaining the rank of Major in
the Army Reserves.
He has remained involved in military affairs: In 2003, Viola established and funded
the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, which researches counterterrorism
policy and educates soldiers and government officials on how to confront threats.
He made a fortune in electronic trading: Viola owes his fortune to Virtu Financial,
the electronic-trading outfit he founded in 2008. The company — which uses powerful
computers to make large numbers of transactions at very high speeds.
He owns valuable New York real estate: Viola owns a 20,000-square-foot
townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, near Central Park worth $114
million. This past April Viola paid the Jehovah’s Witnesses $105 million for a Brooklyn
building located near his childhood home.
He owns the Florida Panthers: Viola bought the NHL team from a group of investors
that included billionaire Wayne Huizenga for $160 million in 2013. Since taking over,
he has reportedly brought his military ties to the team, holding training camps and
playing exhibition games at West Point.
“Whether it is his distinguished military service or highly impressive track record in
the world of business, Vinnie has proved throughout his life that he knows how to be
a leader and deliver major results in the face of any challenge,” Trump said in a
“This great honor comes with great responsibility, and I will fight for the American
people and their right to live free every day,” Viola said in a statement. “A primary focus
of my leadership will be ensuring that America’s soldiers have the ways and means to
fight and win across the full spectrum of conflict.”