Official salaries for world leaders range from the modest to the outstandingly generous. Yet numerous premiers past and present boasted outrageous wealth before they bagged the top job, while others got very rich at their nation’s expense during their time in office. We reveal the peak net worths of the most affluent non-royal heads of state and government chiefs ever, adjusted for inflation. Click or scroll through to find out who they are. All dollar values in US dollars.
Muammar Gaddafi: $200 billion (£144bn)
Richest world leader number two is Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. In 2011, officials estimated that the assassinated chairman, who was in power from 1977 to 2011, stashed away $200 billion (£144bn) in secret bank accounts, shady investments and suspect real estate deals, courtesy of the country’s massive oil revenues. Gaddafi’s wealth was intended to go into a trust to help stabilise war-torn Libya, but the colonel continues to be controversial even in death, with his frozen funds generating cash for unknown beneficiaries and much of his money’s whereabouts still a mystery.
Vladimir Putin: up to $200 billion (£144bn)
The dubious accolade of richest world leader of all time goes to two heads of state. One of them is Vladimir Putin. In 2018, the Russian president’s official salary totalled 8.6 million rubles, which is the equivalent of $116,000 (£83,700), but he was reportedly worth up to $200 billion (£144bn) in 2017 according to former Hermitage Capital Management CEO Bill Browder, who revealed his estimate under oath to the US Senate Judiciary Committee. The money is allegedly tied up in numerous banks and investments in the West. Already Russia’s longest-serving leader since Josef Stalin, new legislation passed in July could allow the billionaire to rule until 2036, giving him plenty of time to amass even more wealth.
Hosni Mubarak: $70 billion (£50.5bn)
Another disreputable leader who was overthrown following the Arab Spring protests, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak was removed from power in 2011 after serving 30 years as president of the country. That same year, ABC News and the Guardian alleged the politician had stolen $70 billion (£50.5bn) from the Egyptian people, though a report in the Washington Times suggests the sum could have been as much as an eye-watering $700 billion (£505bn).
Ali Abdullah Saleh: up to $64 billion (£46.2bn)
The president of Yemen from 1990 to 2012 was as corrupt as they come. Saleh was accused of stealing incredible sums of money from the Yemeni people before his ousting following the Arab Spring series of protests. In fact, a report presented to the United Nations Security Council in 2015 pegged his net worth at up to $64 billion (£46.2bn).
Suharto: up to $55 billion (£39.7bn)
Suharto was president of Indonesia for 31 years until his resignation in 1998. The military despot, who in 2004 was named the most corrupt world leader of the previous 20 years by Transparency International, plundered up to $35 billion – that’s the equivalent of $55 billion (£39.7bn) today – during his grip on power through a system his opponents dubbed “corruption, collusion, nepotism”.
Ferdinand Marcos: $53.1 billion (£38.3bn)
Cruel and corrupt, Ferdinand Marcos was president of the Philippines from 1972 to 1986. Together with his wife Imelda, who is widely known for her collection of over 3,000 high-end shoes, the despot embezzled hundreds of millions and, if reports are correct, up to $53.1 billion (£38.3bn) in today’s money went missing during his dictatorship.
Mahathir Mohamad: $45 billion (£32.5bn)
Formerly the world’s oldest sitting prime minister at 94, Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad had a long stint in power from 1981 to 2003, and then again between 2018 and February 2020. Via his proxy Tun Daim Zainuddin, the elderly leader, who is now 95, is said to have around $45 billion (£32.5bn) stashed away and is thought to have interests in 50 banks around the world.
Ibrahim Babangida: $22.7 billion (£16.4bn)
Another Nigerian leader who appropriated billions of the nation’s money, Ibrahim Babangida was president of the country from 1985 to 1993. The shameless military general is believed to have laundered $12.4 billion off the back of Nigeria’s enormous oil windfall during the 1992 Gulf War. When adjusted for inflation, that’s $22.7 billion (£16.4bn) today.
José Eduardo dos Santos: $20 billion (£14.4bn)
The former president of Angola hoarded enormous sums of money when he was leader of the country from 1979 to 2017. Ignoring the plight of his people, who are in the most part poverty-stricken, the politician chose to enrich himself and his family instead and is now worth an estimated $20 billion (£14.4bn). His daughter Isabel was Africa’s richest woman but corruption charges and cases against her in three different countries have seen her assets frozen, and Forbes no longer lists her among Africa’s richest people.
Mobutu Sese Seko: $12 billion (£8.7bn)
Mobutu Sese Seko was president of Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, from 1965 to 1997. Just as free and easy with his people’s money as the other dictators in our round-up, the despotic leader helped himself to $5 billion, as estimated in 1984. That’s the equivalent of $12 billion (£8.7bn) in today’s money. He owned palaces in Zaire as well as grand residences in Paris and Switzerland, and was partial to pricey luxuries including vintage rosé champagne.
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali: $10 billion (£7.2bn)
Loathed by his people, ex-Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is thought to have controlled between 30% to 40% of the nation’s economy during his time in power. Together with his family, the late president held assets estimated to be worth around $10 billion (£7.2bn) in 2011, the year he was ousted.
Silvio Berlusconi: $9 billion (£6.5bn)
Italy’s prime minister for three terms in the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s, Silvio Berlusconi began his career in construction but entered the world of media in 1973 where he made his fortune. The former owner of football club AC Milan and a convicted tax fraudster, Berlusconi’s net worth peaked at $9 billion (£6.5bn) in 2014, but his family’s fortune has since declined to a total of $5.3 billion (£3.8bn).
Adolf Hitler: $6.5 billion (£4.7bn)
The most reviled despot of them all, Adolf Hitler swindled Germany out of billions. He also made millions from the sale of his book Mein Kampf. According to a 2014 documentary, Hitler had a net worth of 1.1 billion reichsmarks, which is $6.5 billion (£4.7bn) in today’s money.
Sani Abacha: $6.3 billion (£4.55bn)
Military despot Sani Abacha was the de facto leader of Nigeria from 1993 until his death in 1998. His time in office was marked by widespread human rights abuses and endemic corruption. Following the dictator’s demise, the Nigerian government discovered the tyrant had squirrelled away $4 billion in secret bank accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere. In today’s money that’s a whopping $6.3 billion (£4.55bn).
Kim Jong-un: $5 billion (£3.6bn)
North Korea’s current head honcho Kim Jong-un rivals his father in barbarity and beats him when it comes to net worth. The supreme leader of the Hermit Kingdom, who reportedly enjoys the finer things in life from yachts and luxury cars to caviar and vintage wine, is said to have a fortune of $5 billion (£3.6bn).
Donald Trump: $4.5 billion (£3.25bn)
America’s richest president ever is none other than Donald Trump. The real estate tycoon and media personality was of course rolling in money when he won the presidency in November 2016. According to Forbes, Trump’s net worth peaked at $4.5 billion (£3.25bn) in 2016, but has since declined to $2.5 billion (£1.8bn).
Kim Jong-il: $4 billion (£2.89bn)
Another dictator who put his people through hell, North Korea’s Kim Jong-il stole an estimated $4 billion (£2.89bn) while many of his citizens were starving to death. The late despot’s so-called slush fund was managed by Ri Su-yong, North Korea’s former ambassador to Switzerland, who deposited the cash in clandestine Swiss bank accounts.
Francisco Franco: up to $3.8 billion (£2.75bn)
Francisco Franco ruled over Spain from 1939 to his death in 1975, and was responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of people, mainly republicans and other political dissenters. Upper estimates of the dictator’s wealth in 1975 amount to 100 billion pesetas, which works out at around $3.8 billion (£2.75bn) in today’s money.
Ilham Aliyev: $3 billion (£2.17bn)
Autocratic leader Ilham Aliyev has been the president of Azerbaijan since 2003. Along with curtailing free speech in the country, the anti-democratic politician has been accused of embezzling billions and is said to control several ostensibly state-owned companies as well as sizeable assets in the nation’s largest banks. Overall, his net worth is estimated at more than $3 billion (£2.17bn).
Daniel Arap Moi: $3 billion (£2.17bn)
Daniel Arap Moi was president of Kenya from 1978 to 2002. During his time in office, the late politician funnelled upwards of $1 billion into secret bank accounts and private estates around the world. According to Forbes, Moi’s assets included ample stakes in several oil companies, a 247,000-acre farm in Australia and shares in banks and shipping firms. Around the time of his death, the retired politician was said to be worth as much as $3 billion (£2.17bn).
Sebastian Piñera: $2.9 billion (£2.09bn)
Chilean president Sebastian Piñera generated a huge fortune after founding credit card company Bancard in 1976. The South American leader, who is currently serving a second four-year term as president of Chile, has a current net worth of $2.9 billion (£2.09bn) as calculated by Forbes.
Saddam Hussein: $2.8 billion (£2.02bn)
Saddam Hussein amassed a colossal fortune as president of Iraq from 1979 to his ousting in 2003. Helping himself freely to the Iraqi people’s money, the notorious dictator was worth $2 billion in 2003 according to Forbes, which equates to $2.8 billion (£2.02bn) in 2021. The many assets he owned included 89 palaces, numerous luxury cars and large stakes in media companies such as France’s Lagardere SCA.
Wen Jiabao: $2.7 billion (£1.95bn)
China’s premier from 2003 to 2013, Wen Jiabao managed to stockpile billions during his 10-year term. A comprehensive review of company and regulatory filings published in the New York Times in 2012 revealed the Communist Party of China chief had garnered assets amounting to $2.7 billion (£1.95bn).
Ali Bongo Ondimba: $2 billion (£1.4bn)
Reports suggest Gabonese president Ali Bongo Ondimba may have siphoned off 25% of his country’s gross domestic product, so it’s highly likely the politician, who has been in power since 2009, is worth significantly more than the $2 billion (£1.4bn) figure that is widely quoted. His assets include a $138 million (£100m) townhouse in Paris.
Bashar Al-Assad: $1.5 billion (£1.08bn)
Syria’s brutal leader, who has been president of the war-ravaged country since 2000, has been accused of hoarding up to a staggering $122 billion (£88bn) stolen from the state coffers, but a more realistic analysis carried out in 2012 and reported in the Guardian newspaper put his net worth at $1.5 billion (£1.08bn).
Robert Mugabe: $1.45 billion (£1.05bn)
The infamous prime minister then president of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 2017, Robert Mugabe presided over the economic collapse of the once affluent nation, which he plundered to enrich himself and his family. Leaked US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks show the late leader, who owned a number of farms and luxury residences, was estimated as being worth more than $1 billion in 2001. When adjusted for inflation, that’s $1.45 billion (£1.05bn) today.
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani: $1.4 billion (£1.01bn)
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani served as the fourth president of Iran. Born into a wealthy family, he was in office from 1989 to 1997 and had a number of business concerns, which made him a very rich man indeed. In 2006, the politician, who died in 2017, had a net worth pegged by Forbes at $1.1 billion. That’s the equivalent of $1.4 billion (£1.01bn) in today’s money.
Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby: $1.3 billion (£939m)
The UK’s richest-ever prime minister, Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, was the head of government for three terms during the 1850s and 1860s, and goes down in history as the longest-serving leader of the Conservative Party. The aristocrat, who was a major landowner, had a fortune of some $9.3 million, which in today’s money amounts to $1.3 billion (£939m).
Fidel Castro: $1.15 billion (£830m)
Cuba’s long-time leader, who was prime minister of the Caribbean country from 1959 to 1976 and president from 1976 to 2008, may have espoused Marxist-Leninist values based on fair distribution of wealth, but that didn’t stop him apparently accruing an immense personal fortune. In 2006, his net worth was estimated by Forbes at $900 million. When adjusted for inflation, that’s $1.15 billion (£830m) today.
Islam Karimov: $1 billion (£722m)
Islam Karimov was the leader of Uzbekistan and its precursor, the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic, from 1989 until his death in 2016. The president ruled the country with an iron fist – human rights abuses were commonplace and the press was severely constrained. Karmiov also allegedly enjoyed emptying the state’s coffers – his net worth was thought to be $1 billion (£722m).
Nursultan Nazarbayev: $1 billion (£722m)
Nursultan Nazarbayev served as president of Kazakhstan from 24 April 1990 until his resignation in March 2019. During his 29 years in office, the strongman leader was accused of widespread human right abuses, not to mention rampant corruption, and is said to have amassed a fortune of $1 billion (£722m).
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo: $764 million (£552m)
The president of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea since 1979, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has hoarded millions while many of his people live on less than a dollar a day. The corrupt leader owns everything from a Malibu estate to Bugatti Veyrons, Bentleys and a Lamborghini, and has a suitably lavish champagne lifestyle. His net worth was estimated by Forbes in 2006 at $600 million, which is the equivalent of $764 million (£552m) in today’s money.
George Washington: $553 million (£399m)
The second wealthiest US president, George Washington enslaved hundreds of people who toiled away on his 8,000-acre Mount Vernon plantation, which contained five farms. The Founding Father was also something of a real estate mogul, owning land from Virginia to New York. Washington’s inflation-adjusted peak net worth works out at $553 million (£399m).
Uhuru Kenyatta: $500 million (£361m)
Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta is the title holder of at least 500,000 acres of prime farmland in his home country. The land was inherited from his father Jomo Kenyatta, the first leader of Kenya. The politician also has a large stake in the nation’s number one dairy company, as well as shares in a commercial bank and TV station. In 2011, Forbes estimated his net worth at $500 million (£361m).
Napoléon Bonaparte: $400 million (£289m)
Born into a relatively impoverished family in Corsica, Napoléon rose to become the self-styled Emperor of France following the French Revolution, and conquered vast swathes of Europe during the early 19th century. At the time, the rags-to-riches leader was said to be worth 100 million francs. A franc was worth 20 US cents back then, so Napoléon’s fortune amounts to around $400 million (£289m) today.
Source : Love Money