People

Dictators That Stole Billions from Their Countries

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We all grew up hearing about leaders who held on to power at all cost, we saw the miserable way some of them ended. But do you know that there are a lot of them who stole billions from their countries while in power?

Here are some well-known dictators who stole billions from their countries.

Saddam Hussein

The Iraqi dictator took the money the easy way. He sent a hand-written note to the central bank’s governor and ordered that around $1 billion which was US$920 million and €90 million be transferred to his personal accounts. While Hussein was in power, he controlled the black market in Iraq and this made cigarette importers pay his son millions of dollars.

Jean-Claude Duvalier

Former Haitian President Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier took over the dictatorship at 19 years when his father, François Duvalier, died suddenly. He picked up from where his father left off and stole between $300 million and $800 million from the small, impoverished country. According to the World Bank, he stole the equivalent of 1.7% to 4.5% of Haitian GDP each year while he was in power. He lost power in 1986, but the search for his money is still going on, decades after he lost power.

Ferdinand Marcos

Former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, while in power from 1965 to 1986, stole between $5 billion to $10 billion from his country’s treasury through government loans, taking over private companies, bribes, embezzlements and outright theft. he invested a third of the stolen amount into U.S. real estate and foreign bank accounts.  Authorities have recovered more than $4 billion worth of stolen assets since he died in exile in 1989.

Sani Abacha

In his five years rule which was from 1993 to 1998, Sani Abacha stole between $3 billion and $5 billion.  He got money through dodgy bond deals but also taking millions in cash from the Central Bank for “national security” projects and vaccines for child mortality. For years, Nigerian officials have been fighting to recover the stolen money and they have managed to reclaim a small part of the money. But the majority of this stolen money remains missing still.

Mohamed Suharto

Suharto came into power as the president of Indonesia after the 1967 coup. It is said that he stole between $15 billion and $35 billion from his country but lost 90 per cent of it in bad investments. During his reign, he used charities and foundations to perpetrate his crimes. During Suharto’s 32-year reign, financial institutions based in Indonesia and wealthy citizens were mandated to give a part of their earnings to his organizations; they were made to believe the funds would be used for nation-building.

Mobutu Sese Seko

From 1965 to 1997,  the former president of Zaire Mobutu stole more than $12 billion in form of aid from the International Monetary Fund, and he made it look like it was for Cold War concerns. During his reign, Mobutu gave high-ranking positions in the government and military to his family members.

Moammar Gadhafi

Moammar Gadhafi withdrew $5 billion from Swiss banks when one of his sons, Hannibal, was arrested in Geneva for allegedly beating two servants. He did this to retaliate.

It is said Mr Gadhafi personally reviewed all contracts involving Libyan government funds.

Ben Ali

During his reign from 1987 to 2011, former Tunisia president Ben Ali created laws that made companies seek permission to invest and trade in certain sectors. These laws gave him the power to let 220 family businesses monopolize a variety of industries, including telecommunications, transport and real estate. In 2010, these family-owned businesses produced only 3 per cent of Tunisia’s economic output but took 21 per cent of the private-sector profits. With this, the Ben Ali family amassed $13 billion.

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