Thursday, March 25, 2004

Suharto 'most corrupt leader'

Is Suharto really the most corrupt leader of the last 20 years? If so, it's only because he had more time to loot than some. Nigeria's own Sani Abacha managed to loot $4 billion in the space of 4 years - at that rate, he'd have more than doubled Suharto's hoard had he enjoyed 32 years in power. Even Mobutu only managed to extract $5 billion from the Western taxpayer and his long-suffering subjects, despite also enjoying 32 years at the top. In terms of intensity of looting, Abacha really has no competitors.

Indonesia's former president MOHAMED SUHARTO holds the dubious title of being the most corrupt world leader in recent history, a leading anti-corruption organisation said in a "top10 " of graft published yesterday.

Plundering a family fortune estimated at anything between $15 billion (BD5.6bn) and35 bn during his32 -year reign from1967 , Suharto was a clear winner, according to British-based Transparency International.

The group gave a corruption "top10 " for global political leaders over the past 20 years, released to coincide with the release of its annual Global Corruption Report, a round-up of government graft worldwide.

In second place was former Philippine president FERDINAND MARCOS, deposed in1986 , who plundered between five and 10 billion dollars, Transparency International estimated.

The Philippines has the unfortunate boast of featuring two of its former presidents in the top10 , with Joseph Estrada, ousted in2001 , making the final spot with a haul of $78m to $80m.

Coming in third was late dictator MOBUTU SESE SEKO, who acquired around $5bn when he ruled Zaire - now the Democratic Republic of Congo - from 1965 to1997 , despite an average income per capita which even now is only $ 80per year.


The top 10 corrupt leaders are:

Mohamed Suharto, Indonesia, $15bn to $35bn; Ferdinand Marcos, Philippines, $5bn to $10bn; Mobutu Sese Seko, Zaire, $5bn; Sani Abacha, Nigeria, $2bn to $5bn; Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia/Yugoslavia, $1bn; Jean-Claude Duvalier, Haiti, $300m to $800m; Alberto Fujimori, Peru, $600m; Pavlo Lazarenko, Ukraine, $114m to $200m; Arnoldo Aleman, Nicaragua, $100m; Joseph Estrada, Philippines, $78m to $80m.

This list has at least one glaring hole in it - where is the name of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida on it? This is a guy whose government managed to mysteriously "lose" some $12 billion in windfall oil revenue from the Gulf War, and he doesn't even get a mention, while wannabes like Fujimori and Estrada do? Geez, a big-time kleptocrat can't even catch a fair break these days.