Absolute power, corrupts absolutely. This couldn’t be more true from the ancient Romans to powerful figures even today. Corrupt politicians continuously find new ways to earn money through bribing and other unlawful means. Corruption eats at a country like a menace from the top to the bottom. The corruption of politicians can be one of the biggest reasons for the downfall of a country. This is so sad, but so true.
But who has taken corruption to a whole new level in the last 100 years? Well lets talk about the the 10 most corrupt politicians of the 21st century. Lets get started.
10. Joseph Estrada
At the very beginning of his campaign, before becoming the President, Joseph Estrada mastered the art of manipulation to make people believe and use the poverty of the lower class of the society against themselves. This gave him massive popularity and respect among the lower classes of the society who thought that electing Joseph as President would be a way to make the voices of lower classes heard. However, much to his shame, Joseph had an agenda of his own. He put on the mask of a good man only just to get the votes to become the President of Philippines.
Joseph is now considered one of the most corrupt politicians in the 21st century. He started out as an actor, but later through the art of deceiving, he made people see a ray of hope in him. He had been corrupt even before he became the president and most people overlooked that. He has been accused of taking more than $80 million in bribes through his corruption.
9. Alberto Fujimori
Alberto Fujimori was the 90th President of Peru and held office from 1990 to 2000. He made his escape to Japan when the news of his corruption became public. Fujimori was sentenced to seven and half years with embezzlement charges and another 6 years for bribery and corruption charges. He was also convicted of kidnapping and murder and was sentenced to more than 25 years in prison.
Japan denied the request of his extradition from the Peru government. However, he unexpectedly went to Chile. The Chile government signed a pact with the Peruvian government and transported Fujimori back to Peru.
8. Jean Claude Duvalier
Jean Claude Duvalier was the President of Haiti from 1971 to 1986. He was hailed as a president for life, after the death of his father. He was only 19 years old at the time. He was under great pressure from the United States to moderate his father’s regime. So, he introduced some reforms which apparently seemed to settle things down.
His government was toppled by anti-government demonstrations in 1986. He was accused of the embezzlement of about $300 to $800 million dollars. In 2011, he returned to Haiti, but was soon charged due to the corruption during his era.
7. Arnoldo Aleman
Arnoldo Aleman was the 81st President of Nicaragua and being the 81st President any country means a big thing, because you are simply the head of the entire state. However, some people don’t realize the honor and responsibility of presidency and tend to abuse their privileges. Arnold Aleman was one such man, because all this meant nothing to him.
Aleman pursued a career as a lawyer before becoming the president and this alone shows that he knew more law than the lawman. However, you should give him some credit. He started off being a successful Lawyer. Hey then ran and won as the mayor of Nicaragua and finally winning the Presidency. Hey became one of the most corrupt politicians ever. He had quite the career, but he was sentenced to 20 years for embezzlement of more than $100 million in funds.
6. Sani Abacha
Sani Abacha was the head of Nigeria from 1993 to 1998 and he and his family members have been accused of stealing $5 billion of the government’s property. Abacha died in 1998 when he was living in Abuja. Some people say that he had a sudden heart attack while others say that he was poisoned.
In March 2014, the United States Department of Justice reported that it had frozen around $458 million claimed to have been illegally obtained by Abacha and his group.
5. Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein was the Iraqi President from July 1979 to April 2003. In 2003, several hours before the United States invaded, he ordered about $1 billion to be transferred from the government offices to his personal account.
Recently some U.S. investigations have claimed that Saddam Hussein embezzled about $21 billion from the oil for food program.
4. Slobodan Milosevic
Slobodan was quite a prominent political leader and president of both Serbia and Yugoslavia. He progressed in politics and became the president of Serbia in 1989. He supported the Serbian forces in Bosnia and Croatia and is widely blamed for the Serbs’ military aggression. He was barred from a third term as President, so he became the President of Yugoslavia.
In 2001, he was charged with bribery and embezzlement of funds and was presented to the tribunal of Hague which charged him. However, he died before his lengthy trial was concluded. He is accused of stealing about $3 billion of the government’s money.
3. Mobutu Sese Seko
Mobutu Sese Seko served as the President of Congo from 1965 to 1997. While in office, he changed the name of Congo to Zaire in 1971. During his regime, he was accused of nepotism and extravagant shopping trips to Paris. Reports claim that he embezzled about $4 to $10 billion dollars.
The nation suffered from debt and inflation during his regime. The political parties opposed him, but he used brute force to prevent any change. In 1997, he was taken out of power by rebel forces. He is certainly one of the top corrupt politicians of the world.
2. Ferdinand Marcos
Ferdinand Marcos served as the president of Philippines from 1965 to 1986 before being thrown out of power. During his regime, the debt of his country rose from $1 billion to $25 billion dollars.
Reports claim that he stole about $5 billion to $10 billion from a U.S. treasury. He had illegally obtained all his wealth by taking over large private companies and receiving kickbacks from private firms. However, only $4 billion of his wealth has been recovered so far. He died in exile in Hawaii in 1989.
Suharto certainly deserves to be at the top in this list of the most corrupt politicians. He was the president of Indonesia from 1967 to 1998. He was a veteran of the war of independence and became the army chief in 1965. He was against the pro-Chinese policies of the then President Sukarno. He crushed a coup in 1965 and then moved to replace Sukarno in 1967. The political parties were quite limited back then which led to him being reelected from 1973 to 1998.
Suharto and his family were accused of using power to enrich themselves and their families, gaining millions of dollars through exploiting charities, the embezzlement of funds and the kickbacks gained through different business contracts. The collapse of Indonesia’s economy and discontent from Suharto’s rule led to his resignation in 1998. He was placed under house arrest in 2000 after the revelation that he had embezzled about $5 to $10 billion in illegal funds.
These are the top ten most corrupt politicians in the 21st century. So, does the saying, absolute power, corrupts absolutely, ring true after reading this? Well, these politicians were absolutely corrupt and stole from the people that needed it most. They enriched their own lives by stealing from their own countrymen. They are a disgrace to humanity and no one should ever look up to these terrible human beings.