Kleptocracy - Rule by
Kleptocracy, or “rule by thieves,” arises when a country’s
government begin to systematically steal from public funds
on a vast scale. They do so by undermining democracy and the
legal system, gaining control over vital economic assets
(usually the banking and natural-resource sectors), and
ultimately amassing unimaginable wealth.
In early 2004, the German anti-corruption
NGO (Non-governmentmental Organization),
Transparency International, released a list of
what it believed to be the ten most self-enriching leaders in the previous
In order of amount allegedly stolen
in US Dollars,
Suharto ($15 billion – $35 billion)
Ferdinand Marcos (at least $10 billion by 1986
equivalent to about $21.6 billion in 2014 dollars
Mobutu Sese Seko ($5 billion)
Head of State
Sani Abacha ($2 billion – $5 billion)
Slobodan Milošević ($1 billion)
Jean-Claude Duvalier ("Baby Doc") ($300
million – $800 million)
Alberto Fujimori ($600 million)
Pavlo Lazarenko ($114 million – $200 million)
Arnoldo Alemán ($100 million)
Joseph Estrada ($78 million – $80 million)
Putin is seen as a present day, prime example of Kleptocracy
Current estimates of Putin's wealth range from $40 billion up to
political science professor Karen Dawisha (author of Putin's
Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia) recently put it, kleptocrats
manage to nationalize risk while privatizing profits.
Donald Trump a Kleptocrat?
Some are convinced that he is based on his
actions to date (including ongoing unwillingness to reveal tax
return) and his financial status, including his financial interests in many countries
(as President he can do things that benefit his foreign
investments). He is not
putting his financial affairs into a blind trust. He is
appointing major businessmen to his cabinet, including a
nominated "friend" of Russia and Putin, Rex Tillerson.
He and GOP members of Congress are attempting to block and/or
eliminate ethics investigations and investigators. His
prior financial dealings, making money at all costs, including
taking advantage of bankruptcy laws and fake businesses (e.g.,
Trump University). And then there is his openly
stated favorable impression of Putin.
Time will tell how much of a kleptocrat
Trump is, or isn't, but since past behavior is the best
predictor of future behavior, there are sound reasons
to expect he will turn out to be a kleptocrat. We just
don't know how much of a kleptocrat he will be...
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