What happens when you are an autonomous entity who happens to be in the middle of prime infrastructure and oil deals? What if there were no checks and balances or a system that ensures public funds land where they should? What if you were given unlimited political authority with no elected bodies to report to? This would make you a dictator. You could choose to be a benevolent dictator or a selfish one. Most dictators, past and present, chose the latter.
When the assets of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his kin were frozen in March 2011, some of the numbers that came out were astonishing. The U.S. had seized $30 billion of the family's investments. Canada had frozen $2.4 billion, Austria had frozen $1.7 billion and the U.K. had frozen $1 billion. It was reported that these figures were nowhere close to the actuals. Over his 42-year reign, Gaddafi was said to have amassed $75 to $80 billion.
A former ophthalmology student, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made sure key relatives were put in prime government positions. The Guardian reports that Assad's realizable assets stand at $1.5 billion. If this figure includes assets within Syria, which Assad and his family control, the figure would be much larger at about $122 billion. His wealth is said to come from land, energy and licenses. Assad is known to hold his cards, money and positions tightly within his inner circle.
A military head for over 30 years, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak amassed wealth while his citizens continued to struggle on a daily basis. The 82-year-old dictator was said to have amassed an estimated $70 billion over 30 years, with his sons and family controlling and taking cuts on all projects that took place in Egypt. The Mubaraks lived life regally, jetting around the world and living in palaces.
Ali Abdullah Saleh
Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh ruled over the country for 30 years until he recently ceded power on his own terms. He is said to be worth around $32 billion.
Zine al Abidine Ben Ali
Former Tunisian President Zine al Abidine Ben Ali was sentenced to 35 years in prison in absentia. Overthrown by the Jasmine revolution, he lived an excessive life while his countrymen struggled under human rights atrocities. His wife is said to have made her exit with gold bars worth $37 million. Ben Ali is said to have a net worth of $7 billion.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has turned once-rich Zimbabwe into his personal playground, killing most of his rivals and looting Zimbabwe for good measure. His net worth stands at $5 to $10 billion thanks to his country's diamond deposits.
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
Equatoguinean President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has looted and plundered his oil-rich country, sharing none of the country's wealth with the citizens. He is said to be worth over $1 billion, while his country's citizens live on less than $1 per day. Meanwhile, his son continues his legacy of a lavish lifestyle which includes a $35-million estate in Malibu and three $1.7-million Bugatti Veyrons.
Ali Bongo Ondimba
Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba is said to have, along with his associates, pocketed 25% of Gabon's gross domestic product (GDP). He is said to be worth over $1 billion, though this number seems conservative. In 2010, he is said to have bought a townhouse in Paris for $138 million.
The Bottom Line
Most of these dictators had a share in every pie, spent a lot of time covering up money trails and amassed fortunes for their family members. Others brokered deals that would prevent them from ever being prosecuted. Some of these rulers quietly handed the reins to self-appointed successors or guerrilla fighters. The net worth of some of these dictators would easily put royalty to shame.
EconomicsChina's one-child policy is changing, and investors are looking for ways to cash in. The reform might not have the effects that many anticipate, however.
EntrepreneurshipSTART-UP NY is an initiative designed to attract companies to New York State by giving them 10 years of tax breaks. Sounds good, but is it a success?
EconomicsEconomic integration reduces or eliminates trade barriers among nations, and coordinates monetary and fiscal policies.
InvestingLearn why the 2016 presidential election is likely to be the most expensive race ever, and estimate how much it is going to take the eventual winner to prevail.
InvestingDiscover why Donald Trump's extravagant wealth and vast net worth may still not be sufficient to self-finance a successful presidential campaign in 2016.
EconomicsLearn how Donald Trump's economic views are big on confidence but short on specifics. Identify the candidate's top three areas of focus.
EconomicsA price ceiling is the maximum amount a seller can charge for a product or service.
EconomicsThe fiscal cliff refers to a scenario on December 31, 2012, in which the Bush-era tax cuts were set to expire.
EconomicsFree trade exists when nations can swap goods and services without the constraints of tariffs, duties or quotas.
EconomicsNorth and South Korea have been divided for over six decades. Some analysts think the two countries could reunify within the next 10 years.
The main responsibility of the U.S. Social Security Administration, or SSA, is overseeing the country's Social Security program. ... Read Full Answer >>
The U.S. Social Security Administration, or SSA, is headquartered in Woodlawn, Maryland, a suburb just outside of Baltimore. ... Read Full Answer >>
The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) is a government agency, not a government corporation. President Franklin Roosevelt ... Read Full Answer >>
Medicare and Medicaid have enormous influence on the pharmaceutical, or drugs, sector in the United States. For instance, ... Read Full Answer >>
The ethical argument behind government subsidies is that they should be put into place to help industries that will, in turn, ... Read Full Answer >>
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) promulgates generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) in the United ... Read Full Answer >>