10.Joseph Estrada ($78 to 80 million)
Joseph Ejercito Estrada (born Jose Marcelo Ejercito on April 19, 1937) was the 13th President of the Philippines, serving from 1998 until his ouster in the 2001 EDSA Revolution.
Estrada gained popularity as a film actor, playing the lead role in over 100 films in an acting career spanning 33 years. He leveraged his popularity as an actor to make gains in politics, serving as mayor of San Juan for seventeen years, as Senator for one term, then as Vice President of the Philippines under the administration of President Fidel Ramos.
Estrada was elected President in 1998 with a wide margin of votes separating him from the other challengers, and was sworn into the presidency on June 30, 1998. He assumed office amid the Asian Financial Crisis and with agricultural problems due to poor weather conditions, thereby slowing the economic growth. Eventually, the economy recovered but at a slower pace than its Asian neighbors. In 2000 he declared an "all-out-war" against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and captured it's headquarters and other camps. However, allegations of corruption spawned an impeachment trial in the Senate, and in 2001 Estrada was ousted from power after the trial was aborted.
In 2007, he was found guilty of plunder and sentenced to reclusion perpetua, but was later granted a pardon by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
9. Arnoldo Alemán ($100 million)
Alemán was constitutionally barred from running for another term, and was succeeded by his vice president, Enrique Bolaños. Allegations emerged that Alemán was concealing massive corruption in his administration. At the end of his presidency, public information about alleged corruption committed under his government became available.]
Bolaños accused Alemán of widespread corruption and was integral in exposing this alleged corruption throughout the Alemán administration. The scheme was reported to have involved several members of Arnoldo Alemán's closest family, including a brother and sister, as well as Alemán's daughter María Dolores Alemán, and her husband Jeronimo Gadea. Ex–ministers and close friends were also charged, some of whom fled the country. However, one of the central figures in the corruption complot, the former Chief of Department of Taxes Byron Jeréz, was imprisoned on the basis of another charge of corruption. All in all, fourteen persons were charged." Several foreign governments froze Alemán's bank accounts in their countries and threatened to confiscate the funds. In such cases, his defense has been to claim that the funds were not stolen, but that they came from his coffee plantations.
Alemán was formally charged in December 2002, and on 7 December 2003 he was sentenced to a 20-year prison term for a string of crimes including money laundering, embezzlement and corruption. During his trial, prosecutors produced evidence showing that he and his wife had made extremely large charges to government credit cards, "including a $13,755 bill for the Ritz Carlton hotel in Bali and $68,506 for hotel expenses and handicrafts in India." Because of health problems, he had been serving his prison term under house arrest. He was also barred from entering the United States. In 2004, Transparency International named him the ninth most corrupt leader in recent history, estimating that he had looted the country of $100 million.
Meanwhile, following his presidency, Alemán developed a strategic alliance with Daniel Ortega to rule without effective opposition by offering employment in public offices and other privileges to key members of the Sandinista party, in order to stabilize the country. There are those who claim that the main purpose of this agreement, which led to a constitutional reform, was to distribute the institutions of the state in proportion to the power managed by the two main political parties of the country.
On 16 January 2009, Nicaragua’s Supreme Court overturned the 20-year corruption sentence against former President Arnoldo Alemán. The decision generated some controversy: "stunned opposition lawmakers immediately suspected a secret deal between Mr. Alemán, ranked one of the world’s 10 most corrupt leaders ever by Transparency International, and Daniel Ortega, President of Nicaragua and leader of the Sandinista Party, who wields considerable influence and control over the courts. “He’s handing over the National Assembly in exchange for his personal liberty,” said Congressman Enrique Saenz. Mr. Alemán, who denies the allegation, said, “Justice has finally been served.”
8. Pavlo Lazarenko ($114 to 200 million)
Lazarenko was elected to the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) in March 1998, where he headed the parliamentary faction of his political party "Hromada". "Hromada" frequently sided with the parliamentary faction of Oleksandr Moroz.
In December 1998, Lazarenko was detained on money-laundering charges as he crossed by car from France into Switzerland. In a few weeks, he was released on bail in the amount of three million dollars.
Meanwhile, details of his arrest in Switzerland led to a political scandal in Ukraine. Apparently, Lazarenko attempted to cross the Swiss border with a valid Panama passport even though the Ukrainian law prohibits double citizenship.
The public uproar was, in part, instigated by Kuchma's administration who pressed for Lazarenko's arrest. The parliament finally acquiesced to waive Lazarenko's parliamentary immunity on 17 February 1999. However, Lazarenko fled the country on the eve of the parliamentary vote.
He initially stopped in Greece, but was later detained in the New York JFK airport on 20 February 1999 on suspicion of illegally entering the United States. Reportedly, Lazarenko had a stack of documents with him, including a Ukrainian diplomatic passport with an outdated U.S. visa, and requested political asylum.
Subsequently, Lazarenko was transferred to a jail in San Francisco, since his family owned a ranch in California. In 2000, the Ukrainian authorities requested his extradition after charging him over the 1996 killing of Yevhen Shcherban and two attempts on the lives of high-ranking officials. The office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine also claimed that Lazarenko instigated the assassination of Vadym Hetman in late April 1998.
In the United States, Lazarenko was put on trial for money-laundering, corruption, and fraud. Attorney Daniel Horowitz represented Lazarenko on charges arising out of his operation of the Ukrainian gas business, Doron Weinberg represented him regarding charges of extortion of a business partner. The judge dismissed more than half the charges but allowed the remaining charges to be presented to the jury for decision. In late May 2004, a federal jury in San Francisco found him guilty of using his position to get rich through a series of business schemes. In October 2005, Lazarenko stated his intention to return to Ukraine in order to run in the March 2006 parliamentary elections.
From June 2004 until August 2006, Lazarenko remained under house arrest at an undisclosed location on $86 million bail after being convicted by a 12 member jury.
In 2004 Transparency International named Lazarenko the eighth most corrupt political leader in recent history.
On 25 August 2006, Lazarenko was sentenced to 9 years in federal prison.
On 18 October 2006, an appeal on stemming from Lazarenko's conviction (but not the appeal of the conviction) was heard by a three judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which included former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sandra Day O'Connor sitting by designation.
The Ninth Circuit presently has taken the appeal of the criminal conviction under submission. An opinion as to whether the conviction was valid or invalid is expected within the next four months.
Lazarenko is incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California. On November 19, 2009 U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer cut Lazarenko's sentence from 108 to 97 months in prison. The court took into account the fact that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had dismissed his conviction on approximately half the counts of conviction leaving convictions only for acts committed 17 years ago. In November 2009 Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko stated that if Lazarenko returns to Ukraine he will be detained as he is on the international wanted list.
7. Alberto Fujimori ($600 million)
Alberto Ken'ya Fujimori Fujimori served as President of Peru from July 28, 1990, to November 17, 2000. A controversial figure, Fujimori has been credited with uprooting terrorism in Peru and restoring its macroeconomic stability, though his methods have drawn charges of authoritarianism and human rights violations. Even amidst his 2008 prosecution for "crimes against humanity" relating to his presidency, two-thirds of Peruvians polled voiced approval for his leadership in that period.
A Peruvian of Japanese descent, Fujimori fled to Japan in 2000 amidst a corruption scandal, where he attempted to resign his presidency. His resignation was rejected by the Congress of the Republic, which preferred to remove him from office by force of vote. Wanted in Peru on charges of corruption and human rights abuses, Fujimori maintained a self-imposed exile abroad until his detainment during a visit to Chile in November 2005. He was finally extradited to face criminal charges in Peru in September 2007.
In December 2007, Fujimori was convicted of ordering an illegal search and seizure, and was sentenced to six years in prison. The Supreme Court upheld the decision, upon his appeal.
On April 7, 2009, Fujimori was convicted of human rights violations and sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in killings and kidnappings by the Grupo Colina death squad during his government's battle against leftist guerrillas in the 1990s. The verdict delivered by a three-judge panel marked the first time that an elected head of state has been extradited back to his home country, tried, and convicted of human rights violations. Fujimori was specifically found guilty of murder, bodily harm, and two cases of kidnapping.
On July 20, 2009, a Peruvian court sentenced Alberto Fujimori to an additional 7+1⁄2 years in prison for embezzlement after the former president admitted paying his spy chief US$15 million in state funds. He later pled guilty to bribery.
6. Jean-Claude Duvalier ($300 to 800 million)
Duvalier was invested with near-absolute power by the constitution. He took some steps to reform the regime, by releasing some political prisoners and easing censorship on the press. However, there were no substantive changes to the regime's basic character. Opposition was not tolerated, and the legislature remained a rubber stamp.
Much of the Duvaliers' wealth came from the Régie du Tabac (Tobacco Administration). Duvalier used this "nonfiscal account," established decades earlier, as a tobacco monopoly, but he later expanded it to include the proceeds from other government enterprises and used it as a slush fund for which no balance sheets were ever kept.
By neglecting his role in government, Duvalier squandered considerable domestic and foreign goodwill and facilitated the dominance of Haitian affairs by a clique of hardline Duvalierist cronies known as the dinosaurs. The public displayed more affection toward the president than they had displayed for his more formidable father. Foreign officials and observers also seemed more tolerant toward "Baby Doc," in areas such as human-rights monitoring, and foreign countries were more generous to him with economic assistance. The United States restored its aid program for Haiti in 1971.
5. Slobadan Milosevic ($1 billion)
President of Serbia and of Yugoslavia. He served as the President of Socialist Republic of Serbia and Federal Serbia from 1989 until 1997 in three terms and as President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1997 to 2000. He also led the Socialist Party of Serbia from its foundation in 1990.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) charged Milošević with crimes against humanity, violating the laws or customs of war, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and alleged genocide for his role during the wars in Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbian province of Kosovo, today the Republic of Kosovo (Unofficial, as independence is not UN recognised).
Milošević resigned the Yugoslav presidency amid demonstrations, following the disputed presidential election of 24 September 2000. He was arrested by Yugoslav federal authorities on Saturday, 31 March 2001, on suspicion of corruption, abuse of power, and embezzlement. He was also arrested by the ICTY, or the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, a Tribunal created by the UN Security Council in 1993, on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and violations of the customs of war. The initial investigation into Milošević faltered for lack of evidence, prompting the Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić to send him to The Hague to stand trial for charges of war crimes instead.
Milošević conducted his own defense in the five-year long trial, which ended without a verdict when Milošević died in the War Criminal Prison in The Hague. Milošević, who suffered from heart ailments and high blood pressure, died of a heart attack. The Tribunal denies any responsibility for Milošević's death. They claim that he refused to take prescribed medicines and medicated himself instead.
4. Sani Abadacha ($2 to 5 billlion)
Abacha's government was accused of human rights abuses, especially after the hanging of Ogoni activist Ken Saro-Wiwa by the Oputa Commission (only one of several cases against Ogoni activists opposed to the exploitation of Nigerian land by multinational oil companies); Abiola and Olusegun Obasanjo were jailed for treason, and Wole Soyinka charged in absentia with treason. His regime suffered stiff opposition internally and externally by pro-democracy activists who made the regime unpopular, and responded by banning political activity in general and by controlling the press in particular; a significant fraction of the military was purged. Abacha surrounded himself with approximately 3,000 armed men loyal to himself. His government compared to other Nigerian governments was characterised by an inconsistent foreign policy. He supported the Economic Community of West African States and sent Nigerian troops to Liberia and Sierra Leone to restore democracy to that country while denying it at home. Abacha scoffed at the threat of economic sanctions on account of the West's dependence on oil of which Nigeria is a major producer.
3. Mobutu Sese Seko ($5 billion)
Early in his rule, Mobutu consolidated power by publicly executing political rivals, secessionists, coup plotters, and other threats to his rule. To set an example, many were hanged before large audiences, including former Prime Minister Evariste Kimba, who, with three cabinet members - Jérôme Anany (Defense Minister), Emmanuel Bamba (Finance Minister), and Alexandre Mahamba (Minister of Mines and Energy) - was tried in May 1966, and sent to the gallows on May 30, before an audience of 50,000 spectators. The men were executed on charges of being in contact with Colonel Alphonse Bangala and Major Pierre Efomi, for the purpose of planning a coup. Mobutu explained the executions as follows: "One had to strike through a spectacular example, and create the conditions of regime discipline. When a chief takes a decision, he decides - period."
In 1968 Pierre Mulele, Lumumba's Minister of Education and later a rebel leader during the 1964 Simba rebellion, was lured out of exile in Brazzaville on the assumption that he would be amnestied, but was tortured and killed by Mobutu's forces. While Mulele was still alive, his eyes were gouged out, his genitals were ripped off, and his limbs were amputated one by one. Mobutu later moved away from torture and murder, and switched to a new tactic, buying off political rivals. He used the slogan "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer still" to describe his tactic of co-opting political opponents through bribery. A favorite Mobutu tactic was to play "musical chairs," rotating members of his government, switching the cabinet roster constantly to ensure that no one would pose a threat to his rule. Another tactic was to arrest and sometimes torture dissident members of the government, only to later pardon them and reward them with high office. The most famous example of this treatment is Jean Nguza Karl-i-Bond, who was fired as foreign minister in 1977, sentenced to death, and tortured. Mobutu then commuted his sentence to life imprisonment, released him after a year, and later appointed him prime minister. Nguza fled the country in 1981 only to return in 1985, first serving as Zaire's ambassador to the U.S. and later as foreign minister.
In 1972 Mobutu tried unsuccessfully to have himself named president for life. In 1983, Mobutu promoted himself to the rank of Field Marshal.
He initially nationalized foreign-owned firms and forced European investors out of the country. In many cases he handed the management of these firms to relatives and close associates who stole the companies' assets. This precipitated such an economic slump that Mobutu was forced by 1977 to try to woo foreign investors back. Katangan rebels based in Angola invaded Zaire in 1977 in retaliation for Mobutu's support for anti-MPLA rebels. France airlifted 1,500 Moroccan paratroopers into the country and repulsed the rebels, ending Shaba I. The rebels attacked Zaire again, in greater numbers, in the Shaba II invasion of 1978. The governments of Belgium and France deployed troops with logistical support from the United States and defeated the rebels again.
He was re-elected in single-candidate elections in 1977 and 1984. He worked hard on little but to increase his personal fortune, which in 1984 was estimated to amount to US$5 billion, most of it in Swiss banks (however, a comparatively small $3.4 million has been found after his ousting). This was almost equivalent to the country's foreign debt at the time, and, by 1989, the government was forced to default on international loans from Belgium. He owned a fleet of Mercedes-Benz vehicles that he used to travel between his numerous palaces, while the nation's roads rotted and many of his people starved. Infrastructure virtually collapsed, and many public service workers went months without being paid. Most money was siphoned off to Mobutu, his family, and top political and military leaders. Only the Special Presidential Division - on whom his physical safety depended - was paid adequately or regularly. A popular saying that the civil servants pretended to work while the state pretended to pay them expressed this grim reality.
Another feature of Mobutu's economic mismanagement, directly linked to the way he and his friends siphoned off so much of the country's wealth, was rampant inflation. The rapid decline in the real value of salaries strongly encouraged a culture of corruption and dishonesty among public servants of all kinds.
Marshal Mobutu was known to charter a Concorde from Air France for personal use, including shopping trips to Paris for himself and his family. He had an airport constructed in his hometown of Gbadolite with a runway long enough to accommodate the Concorde's extended take off and landing requirements. In 1989, Mobutu chartered Concorde aircraft F-BTSD for a June 26-July 5 trip to give a speech at the United Nations in New York City, July 16 for French bicentential celebrations in Paris (where he was a guest of President François Mitterrand), on September 19 for a flight from Paris to Gbadolite, and another nonstop flight from Gbadolite to Marseille with the youth choir of Zaire.
Mobutu's rule earned a reputation as one of the world's foremost examples of kleptocracy and nepotism. Close relatives and fellow members of the Ngbandi tribe were awarded with high positions in the military and government, and he groomed his eldest son, Nyiwa, to one day succeed him as President; however, this was thwarted by Nyiwa's death from AIDS in 1994.
He was also the subject of a massive personality cult. The evening news on television was preceded by an image of him descending through clouds from the heavens, portraits of him adorned many public places, government officials wore lapels bearing his portrait, and he held such titles as "Father of the Nation," "Savior of the People," and "Supreme Combatant." In the 1996 documentary of the 1974 Foreman-Ali fight in Zaire, dancers receiving the fighters can be heard chanting "Sese Seko, Sese Seko." At one point, in early 1975, the media was even forbidden from mentioning by name anyone but Mobutu; others were referred to only by the positions they held.
Mobutu was able to successfully capitalize on Cold War tensions and gain significant support from Western countries like the United States and international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund.
2. Ferdinand Marcos ($5 to 10 billion)
President of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. He was a lawyer, member of the Philippine House of Representatives (1949-1959) and a member of the Philippine Senate (1959-1965). He was Senate President in 1963. He claimed that during World War II he had been the leader of Ang Maharlika, a guerrilla force in northern Luzon. As Philippine president and strongman, his greatest achievement was in the fields of infrastructure development and international diplomacy. However, his administration was marred by massive authoritarian corruption, despotism, nepotism, political repression, and human rights violations. He benefited from a large personality cult in the Philippines during his regime. In 1983, his government was implicated in the assassination of his primary political opponent, Benigno Aquino, Jr.. The implication caused a chain of events, including a tainted presidential election that served as the catalyst for the People Power Revolution in February 1986 that led to his removal from power and eventual exile in Hawaii. It was later alleged that he and his wife Imelda Marcos had moved billions of dollars of embezzled public funds to the United States, Switzerland, and other countries, as well as into fictitious corporations during his 20 years in power.
1. Mohammed Suharto ($15 to 35 billion)
The legacy of Suharto's 32-year rule is debated both in Indonesia and abroad. Under his "New Order" administration, Suharto constructed a strong, centralised and military-dominated government. An ability to maintain stability over a sprawling and diverse Indonesia and an avowedly anti-Communist stance won him the economic and diplomatic support of the West during the Cold War. For most of his presidency, Indonesia experienced significant economic growth and industrialisation, dramatically improving health, education and living standards. Indonesia's 24-year occupation of East Timor during Suharto's presidency, resulted in at least 100,000 deaths. By the 1990s, the New Order's authoritarianism and widespread corruption was a source of discontent. In the years since his presidency, attempts to try him on charges of corruption and genocide failed because of his poor health.
Like many Javanese, Suharto had only one name. In religious contexts, he is sometimes called “Haji” or “el-Haj Mohammed Suharto”, but this Islamic title is not part of his formal name or generally used. The spelling "Suharto" reflects current Indonesian spelling, but people's names were always exempt from this. The English-language press generally uses the spelling 'Suharto', but Suharto and his family, as well as the Indonesian government and media, use 'Soeharto'.
Source: Transparency International