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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 March, 2004, 17:23 GMT
Suharto tops corruption rankings
Dollars in a sack
Former President Suharto of Indonesia tops the all-time corruption league table, an anti-graft group says.

Transparency International(TI), in its Global Corruption Report, uses the list to show how political corruption and private bribery hurt development.

Suharto's alleged haul of $15-$35bn in 31 years of rule, TI said, demonstrated how abuse of power "undermines the hopes... of developing countries".

Close behind is Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko, who allegedly looted $5bn.

His haul, said TI, was particularly high in a country with an average GDP of just $100 a person.

It amounted to 40% of the $12bn in aid Zaire - now the Democratic Republic of Congo - received during his 32-year rule.

"The abuse of political power for private gain deprives the most needy of vital public services, creating a level of despair that breeds conflict and violence," said TI's founder and chairman Peter Eigen.


In producing this year's report TI has focused on political corruption, partly to highlight new conventions which it hopes will help the fight against graft.

Suharto: $15-35bn
(Indonesia, 1967-98)
Ferdinand Marcos: $5-10bn
(Philippines, 1972-86)
Mobutu Sese Seko: $5bn
(Zaire, 1965-97)
Sani Abacha: $2-5bn
(Nigeria, 1993-98)
Slobodan Milosevic: $1bn
(Yugoslavia, 1989-2000)
J-C Duvalier: $300-800m
(Haiti, 1971-86)
Alberto Fujimori: $600m
(Peru, 1990-2000)
Pavlo Lazarenko: $114-200m
(Ukraine, 1996-7)
Arnoldo Aleman: $100m
(Nicaragua, 1997-2002)
Joseph Estrada: $78-80m
(Philippines, 1998-2001)
Source: Transparency International.
All sums are estimates of alleged embezzlement
The United Nations Convention against Corruption was completed on 9 December last year, while the African Union's own convention came out in July 2003.

Ratification of these conventions, said TI UK chief Laurence Cockcroft, would help root out corrupt politicians and - just as importantly - get the stolen cash back home.

The UN Convention, he said, "provides a formal framework for mult-lateral action" by law enforcement.

"And it greatly improves the scope for repatriation of assets by cutting through the legal obscurantism of the past."

That could - for example - help Nigeria recover the $2bn-$5bn estimated to have been stolen by late President Sani Abacha.

Switzerland has promised to hand back more than $500m in its banks, but less progress is being made on the $1bn-plus held in London.

Still in office

TI is not alone in looking into corruption in public life.

Of particular interest in recent months has been the energy and minerals industry.

While TI's list focuses on politicians who are either dead or under investigation, others - such as resource exploitation specialists Global Witness - have gone further.

In a recent report, Global Witness accused several current leaders of looting their own treasuries.

Among them are:

  • Angola's President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, whom it says keeps large sums in bank accounts abroad
  • Equatorial Guinea, whose President Teodoro Obiang calls oil revenues a "state secret" but is accused of keeping oil companies' payments in a bank in Washington DC under his own name
  • Kazakhstan, where a bungled attempt to smear a rival led to President Nursultan Nazarbayev inadvertently revealing $1bn in state funds placed abroad "for the good of the country".

    Angola on Thursday rejected accusations that the president and other senior government officials had benefited by millions of dollars from illicit deals.

    In a statement issued by the Angolan embassy in London, the government said the allegations were baseless and could not be proved.

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