A Brief Modern History Of Corruption In High Places, The World Over

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Corruption then went on to explode around the world with frightening vigour, especially outside Europe where modern corruption could arguably be said to have originated from. Governments worldwide repeatedly promised to fight it, at least to reduce it. These international declarations started becoming more intense in the 1980s. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who headed the country from 2006 to 2009, was also the subject of several allegations of corruption, which forced him
to resign. There were major cases against him, such as accepting money from a US supporter, and he was jailed in 2014 for eight months. Some of his crimes occurred during his time as Trade Minister and Mayor of Jerusalem. The case against a former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India (1984 – 1989), was about corruption allegations known as ‘black money’ concerning funds laundered into a secret account, which led to the collapse of his government, and he ended up being assassinated by a suicide bomber in 1991, similar to that of his late mother Indira Gandhi who was shot dead by her bodyguards. The next Prime Minister of India displayed a similar trend from P.V. Narasimba Rao’s government between 1991 and 1996 which likewise collapsed because of corruption charges, bribery allegations and a motion of ‘no confidence’ brought against him in 1993, was swiftly followed by his acquittal. Then there was the famous case in the Philippines where Ferdinand Marcos who reigned from 1972 to 1981,with that his extravagant wife and first lady, Imelda Marcos and her three thousand plus shoes, most of which she could not have even worn, just goes to show the height of greed that bred corruption or one could equally put it, the height of corruption that led to greed. The terms “Kleptocracy” and “Imeldic” were coined from that era. Marcos and his government finally fell to yet another notorious administration in the country, that of the blatantly corrupt Joseph Estrada the ex-film star who was president from 1998 to 2001, and was thankfully impeached. Corruption charges were levelled against him which led to his impeachment. Transparency International added him to the list of the world’s All-Time Corrupt Leaders. Let us also move on to Thailand where corruption scandals and rumours managed to destroy the government of Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai in 1995, three years after he came to power, which had been formerly considered to be relatively clean and somehow he managed to return for yet another stint at the top, between 1997 and 2001. That regime was swiftly followed in identical fashion by their next Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra who stayed from 2001 to 2006, and had serious corruption charges against him for illegal running of side businesses which was against their laws and several money laundering activities concerning the transfer of shares to various parties in a bid to hide funds. The next country down the line of examples was Indonesia where its promising President for a year, B.J. Habibie suddenly dropped all charges that were levelled against his predecessor the corrupt authoritarian regime of the Dictator Mohammed Subharto and his family. They stuck around for 31 years from 1967 to 1998, and were said to have practised unrestrained corruption and committed all sorts of atrocities which led to the stunting of their economic growth, collapse of living standards for the poor and a new onset of recession, due to their abuse of power, much to the dismay of the populace, who became subject to yet another corrupt tyrant ruling over them after Habibie left, in the form of their next President Abdulrahman Wahid from 1999 to 2001, who was subsequently charged, eventually impeached and removed. We will also touch South Korea who experienced the peaceful regime of Kim Dae Jung, their President from 1998 to 2003. In trying to broker peace with North Korea, he was alleged to have been involved in the payment of several millions of dollars to Pyongyang. Endemic corruption was also replicated many times over in Africa and Latin America: In Haiti there was also the dreaded tyrannic voodoo government of Francois (‘Papa Doc’) Duvalier whose son Jean- Claude Duvalier followed in his father’s footsteps from 1971 to 1986, with almost unrestrained corruption and severe human rights abuses, for which he was subsequently charged. He died before his trial began. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko’s four- decade reign of terror and corruption as a Military Dictator ended in 1997, after numerous human rights violations and the embezzlement of over US$15 billion. He was the archetypal African dictator. Laurent Kabila’s subsequent government was no less corrupt. In Zimbabwe corruption continued to plague the highest and lowest levels of President Robert Mugabe’s government. He was also linked with racism and homophobia. However, he was still going strong from 1987 until his demise, despite the many sanctions and worldwide condemnation, he managed to survive in his own kingdom and was practically untouchable, an old man who had nothing to lose. But he is an exception rather than a rule. In Nigeria between 1993 and 1998, the Military Dictator General Sani Abacha’s administration quickly gained notoriety for its corruption and there were concrete allegations that he and his family looted and laundered billions of pounds sterling and several hundreds of Millions of US dollars out of the country. He was also listed as the most corrupt leader in history by Transparency International. In Peru, their President Alberto Fujimori who lasted for just a year from 1999 to 2000, was linked to corruption and drug trafficking as well as human rights violations, was consequently sentence to 25 years imprisonment. His regime was the most corrupt in the history of Peru, and he also made history because of the rarity of prosecutions of heads of state in any country. In Nicaragua Arnoldo Alemain, president from 1997 to 2002, amassed a massive fortune at the expense of his countrymen. He too was charged with corruption, money laundering and embezzlement. He was convicted and sentenced to a 20 year prison term, however this was unpopularly overturned in 2009 under the watch of President Daniel Ortega. He also made it in the top ten list of most corrupt leaders. “In addition to the struggling democracies in Asia, Africa and Latin America, the collapse of the Soviet Union introduced a number of new countries that were faced with the daunting task of controlling corruption. The twin challenges of democratisation and economic reform seemed to provide fertile ground for corrupt activities in Eastern Europe. The privatisation of state-owned industries, for example, created new markets and opportunities for both corrupt politicians and entrepreneurs” (Boycko, et als 1996, Shleifer and Vish).

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