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   Suharto Tops World Corruption League
March 25, 2004 11:25 PM, 
Laksamana.Net -  Former dictator Suharto has topped a list of the world's most corrupt politicians over the past two decades.

The list is part of Transparency International's new Global Corruption Report 2004, which charts the flow of stolen assets, recommends ways to recover money looted by despots, and sets out new standards on political finance and favors.

Transparency International says Suharto stole about $15 billion to $35 billion during his 32 years of rule in a country where the Gross Domestic Product per capita hovers at around $700.

The report, released in London on Thursday (25/3/04), says "plundering politicians and bribing multinationals" are undermining economic development.

Suharto (82) came to power in 1967 amid mass slaughters of hundreds of thousands of communists and their alleged sympathizers. He was forced to resign in May 1998 amid mass riots, protests and financial turmoil. Since then, efforts to bring him to court on corruption charges have failed because doctors claim he is too physically and mentally sick (brain-damaged) to stand trial. Many observers suspect the old man is faking the extent of his alleged poor health.

Despite Suharto's notoriety for corruption and repression, his eldest daughter Siti Hardiyanti 'Tutut' Rukmana is hoping to contest Indonesia's July 5 presidential election - seeking to capitalize on growing nostalgia among many citizens for the relative political and economic stability of the Suharto era.

Featured below is the list of the world's most corrupt politicians, showing their years in power and the estimated amounts of money they embezzled; followed by a press statement outlining comments made by TI chairman Peter Eigen at the launch of the new global corruption report.

Where did the money go? - The top 10
1. Mohamed Suharto - President of Indonesia (1967-98) $15-35 billion.
2. Ferdinand Marcos - President of the Philippines (1972-86) $5-10 billion.
3. Mobutu Sese Seko - President of Zaire (1965-97) $5 billion.
4. Sani Abacha - President of Nigeria (1993-98) $2-5 billion.
5. Slobodan Milosevic - President of Serbia/Yugoslavia (1989-2000) $1 billion.
6. Jean-Claude Duvalier - President of Haiti (1971-86) $300-800 million.
7. Alberto Fujimori - President of Peru (1990-2000) $600 million.
8. Pavlo Lazarenko - Prime Minister of Ukraine (1996-97) $114-200 million.
9. Arnoldo Alemán - President of Nicaragua (1997-2002) $100 million.
10. Joseph Estrada - President of the Philippines (1998-2001) $78-80 million.

Statement by TI Chairman Peter Eigen
March 25, 2004 - "Political corruption undermines the hopes for prosperity and stability of developing countries, and damages the global economy," said Peter Eigen, Chairman of Transparency International (TI), launching the TI Global Corruption Report 2004 (GCR 2004) today. "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. It also hits the pockets of taxpayers and shareholders worldwide. The problem must be tackled at the national and international level," he said.

"The GCR 2004 , with a special focus on political corruption," said Eigen, "is a call to action to bring integrity and accountability into governance, to stop bribery by multinational companies, and to curb the flow of stolen assets into secret bank accounts in the west." TI is the leading international non-governmental organisation combating corruption worldwide.

"Democracies can no longer tolerate bribery, fraud and dishonesty," states former US President Jimmy Carter in a foreword to the GCR 2004 , "especially as such practices disproportionately hurt the poor."

The GCR 2004 details funds allegedly embezzled by political leaders of the past two decades. During his misrule, Mohamed Suharto, President of Indonesia from 1967-98, is alleged to have stolen US$15-US$35 billion in a country where the GDP per capita hovers at around US$700. Suharto tops the table of corrupt politicians.

Political corruption deprives millions of health care, education and the prospects of a sustainable future," said TI-Zimbabwe Chair John Makumbe at the launch of TI's GCR 2004 in London today. "The fight against corruption requires sustained political will at the highest levels, and not only in countries recovering from the legacy of Moi, Suharto, Duvalier or Abacha," said Makumbe, a member of TI's international Board of Directors.

"There has to be a commitment," he continued, "on the part of governments to implement the new African Union Convention on Combating and Preventing Corruption and the UN Convention against Corruption, in particular the measures to curb the outflow of assets stolen by corrupt elites into foreign bank accounts. Bribe-paying is a crime against humanity, a fact made clear by the legacy of poverty and distrust left behind by corrupt politicians."

"International financial institutions and donor governments must engage with developing country governments that demonstrate the political will to fight corruption," said Eigen. "To make sure that this will can be realised, donor governments must insist on adequate civil society monitoring of good governance in recipient countries."

To mark the publication of the GCR 2004 , today TI launched its Standards on Political Finance and Favours, setting out a blueprint for transparency in political and campaign finance in a year which sees key elections in countries where political corruption has been a persistent problem. Elections will be held in the coming months in Indonesia and the Philippines, two countries still reeling from the corrupt legacy of Mohamed Suharto, and both Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada respectively.

The TI Standards include conflict-of-interest legislation, and independently monitored annual disclosure of party income and expenditure. The recommendations include a diversified funding base, fair access to the media and provisions for civil society monitoring of political finance.

The special focus of the GCR 2004 on political corruption includes expert reports on the regulation of political finance, the disclosure of money flows into politics, and the repatriation of wealth looted by politicians. Two industry case studies - on the arms and oil sectors - demonstrate the role of the private sector in supplying corrupt political funds.

The GCR 2004 includes detailed assessments of the state of corruption in 34 country reports, accompanied by analyses of recent global and regional developments, including the UN Convention against Corruption and the impact of EU expansion on corruption. The report also includes the findings of the latest research into corruption and ways to combat it.
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