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Kleptocracy: Wikis


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Kleptocracy, alternatively cleptocracy or kleptarchy, from Greek kleptes (thieve) and kratos (rule), is a term applied to a government that takes advantage of governmental corruption to extend the personal wealth and political power of government officials and the ruling class (collectively, kleptocrats), via the embezzlement of state funds at the expense of the wider population, sometimes without even the pretense of honest service. The term means "rule by thieves". Not an "official" form of government (such as democracy, republic, monarchy, theocracy) the term is a pejorative for governments perceived to have a particularly severe and systemic problem with the selfish misappropriation of public funds by those in power.



Kleptocracies are generally associated with corrupt forms of totalitarian governments, particularly dictatorships, oligarchies, military juntas, or some other form of autocratic and nepotist government in which no outside oversight is possible due to the ability of the kleptocrat(s) to personally control both the supply of public funds and the means of determining their disbursal. A kleptocratic ruler typically treats their country's treasury as though it were their own personal bank account, spending the funds on luxury goods as they see fit. Many kleptocratic rulers also secretly transfer public funds into secret personal numbered bank accounts in foreign countries in order to provide them with continued luxury if/when they are eventually removed from power and forced to flee the country.


The effects of a kleptocratic regime or government on a nation are typically adverse in regards to the faring of the state's economy, political affairs and civil rights. Kleptocracy in government often vitiates prospects of foreign investment and drastically weakens the domestic market and cross-border trade. As the kleptocracy normally embezzles money from its citizens by misusing funds derived from tax payments, or money laundering schemes, a kleptocratically structured political system tends to degrade nearly everyone's quality of life.

In addition, the money that kleptocrats steal is often taken from funds that were earmarked for public amenities, such as the building of hospitals, schools, roads, parks and the like - which has further adverse effects on the quality of life of the citizens living under a kleptocracy.[1] The quasi-oligarchy that results from a kleptocratic elite also subverts democracy (or any other political format the state is ostensibly under).[2]


Transparency International ranking

In early 2004, the anti-corruption Germany-based NGO Transparency International released a list of what it believes to be the ten most self-enriching leaders in recent years.[3]

In order of amount allegedly stolen (in USD), they are:

  1. Former Indonesian President Suharto ($15 billion – $35 billion)
  2. Former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos ($5 billion – $10 billion)
  3. Former Zairian President Mobutu Sese Seko ($5 billion)
  4. Former Nigerian President Sani Abacha ($2 billion – $5 billion)
  5. Current Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni ( $1 billion - $1.7 Billion )
  6. Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević ($1 billion)
  7. Former Haitian President Jean-Claude Duvalier ($300 million – $800 million)
  8. Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori ($600 million)
  9. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko ($114 million – $200 million)
  10. Former Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Alemán ($100 million)
  11. Former Philippine President Joseph Estrada ($78 million – $80 million)


A narcokleptocracy is a society ruled by "thieves" involved in the trade of narcotics.

The term has its origin in a report prepared by a subcommittee of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.[4] The term was used specifically to describe the regime of Manuel Noriega in Panama. The term's construction builds on the already existing pejorative term "kleptocracy"- which is a government run by thieves. That is more precisely, a government run expressly for the financial benefit of those who govern [5] / [6].

Statement by the George W. Bush Administration

In 2006, the Bush Administration, consistent with promises made at the prior G8 Summit, enunciated a policy specifically intended to internationalize an effort to resist, pursue, and prosecute kleptocracies.[7]. The White House stated intended commitments to: denying safe haven, bringing together major financial centers vulnerable to exploitation in order to develop preventive anti-corruption practices, enhance international information sharing on corrupt officials, uncover, seize, and return stolen funds and prosecute those criminals involved, and ensure greater multilateral action in helping to develop and repair those areas of the world stricken by high-level corruption.[8]

See also



Simple English

Kleptocracy ('klepto' meaning 'theft') is the ruling of possibly any kind of government that uses its power to steal from its people.


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