Putin Worth $200 Billion – Why Dictators Are The Real World’s Richest Men

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Feb 21 2017
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Back in 2007, he was estimated to have a fortune of US$40 billion, making him the richest man in Europe. Five years later in 2012, his wealth jumped to US$70 billion, pushing him to world’s top spot. Two years ago in 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin was already the world’s richest man, accumulating a staggering US$200 billion.


Today, Putin could easily worth more than US$200 billion, leaving a trail of dust for Microsoft founder Bill Gates, supposedly the world’s richest man with a fortune of only US$85.6 billion (Forbes). Gates gets to have his name printed on Forbes as officially the richest man, while Putin isn’t recognized despite his swelling amount of wealth. How unfair!

Vladimir Putin Worth US Dollar 200 Billion - Yacht and Mistress Alisa Kharcheva

While Bill Gates’ fortune is on public record and could be substantiated, people like Vladimir Putin can only be secretive about his wealth. Thus, political analyst Stanslav Belkovsky could only estimate Putin’s fortune in 2007 and 2012. Likewise, it couldn’t be verified when Bill Browder, an author and a former fund manager in Russia, claimed Putin was worth US$200 billion in 2015.


The Kremlin source based his estimate on Putin’s alleged stakes in several companies, mostly in the oil sector. He claimed the Russian president controlled 37% of the oil company Surgutneftegaz, 4.5% of natural gas company Gazprom, and had substantial holdings in a commodities trader called Gunvor. Gunvor made US$93 billion in revenue in 2012 alone.

One Billion Dollar Palace Built For Russian President Vladimir Putin

The Secret 1-Billion Dollar Palace On The Black Sea

A US$1 billion palace on the Black Sea personally built for Putin but paid for using a secret slush fund created by a group of Russian oligarchs is perhaps the jewel of the Russian supremo’s fortune. Russian oligarchs such as Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich was the type of people that makes it possible for Putin to live like a tsar, without any proof showing he was corrupted.


But why stops at only one palace when rumours have it that Vladimir Putin actually controls 20 palaces, 4 yachts, 58 planes and helicopters, and a collection of watches worth at least US$500,000. His yachts include Sirius fitted with whirlpool baths, a cinema and an artificial waterfall. As a gift for Putin’s successful presidency, billionaire Abramovich gave him a 187-ft vessel called Olympia.

Roman Abramovich Gifted Yacht Olympia To Vladimir Putin

However, Putin’s favourite yacht is none other than super-yacht “Graceful”, specially built for him at the Russian Sevmash shipyard near Arkhangelsk. Sevmash is the largest ship-building complex in Russia, known for building nuclear submarines for the Russian Navy. Unlike President Trump, however, President Putin keeps quiet about his net worth.


In April 2015, Putin declared a 2014 income of just US$119,000, listing ownership of two apartments and a share in a car parking garage. That would be Putin’s only justification that he isn’t corrupt, let alone lives like a Russian tsar with net worth of US$200 billion. Nobody believes him, of course, due to his unlimited political power in Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin Lives Like A Tsar

Understandable, it isn’t possible to list rulers and dictators in the Forbes. People know the listings of the world’s billionaires in the Forbes are quite meaningless. People know that by default dictators are the real richest men on planet Earth. Even Pablo Escobar, the “King of Cocaine”, made it to the Forbes as one of the world’s wealthiest men.


Vladimir Putin isn’t the only dictator in the world who is speculated to be worth US$200 billion, mind you. When Egyptian Pharoah Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011 (after 30 years of iron-fist rule), Guardian and ABC News estimated his worth to be US$70 billion. Egyptian lawyers, however, believed Mubarak’s clan had plundered away US$700 billion, including 70 tons of gold.

Billionaire Dictators – Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi

At the time of his capture and death in 2011, Libyan dictator Gaddafi was the richest man on earth with an estimated US$200 billion fortune. Mr. Gaddafi, who humbly retained his army rank of colonel, was able to build his massive personal wealth thanks to Libya being the largest supply of oil in Africa. Libya was practically Gaddafi’s money printing machine for 40 years.


Let’s do the Maths. Mubarak made on average US$2.3 billion per year while Gaddafi scooped US$5 billion annually, assuming they were worth US$70 billion and US$200 billion respectively. Putin, on the other hand has been enriching himself to the tune of US$14 billion every year, if he indeed possessed US$200 billion in fortune.


Essentially, all dictators ended up as multi-billionaires through corruption, abuse of power, money laundering and whatnot. What about countries that practice fake democracy such as Malaysia, also an oil producer? Mahathir Mohamad, who practiced iron-fist rule similar to Hosni Mubarak ruled Malaysia for 22 years from 1981 to 2003. How much have had Mr. Mahathir plundered?


Using Mubarak and Gaddafi’s annual income as guidelines, Mahathir would have enriched his clan of between US$50 billion and US$110 billion. Have we been smoking grass lately? Not at all, considering Mahathir’s close buddy former Indonesian President Suharto had siphoned between US$20 billion and US$40 billion during his 32-year iron-fist rule.

Dictators – Indonesian Suharto with Malaysian Mahathir

The Philippines was plundered US$10 billion under former President Ferdinand Marcos’ 21-year dictatorship. Even Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha managed to steal US$5 billion while ruling the African country for merely 5 years after a 1993 coup. But if Mahathir’s net worth was between US$50 billion and US$110 billion, how much could current Prime Minister Najib Razak accumulate?


As one of Forbes Malaysia’s 50 Richest, Najib’s own brother Nazir Razak is worth close to US$150 million. Therefore, the conventional wisdom would put PM Najib’s net worth of over US$150 million. However, in the wake of the explosive 1MDB scandal, any Malaysian on the street would laugh, even think it’s insulting, if told that the Malaysian prime minister isn’t a billionaire.

1MDB Scandal - US-DOJ Links Stolen Money To Riza Aziz and Malaysian Official 1 - Najib Razak and Rosmah Mansor

From 2009 as the country’s prime minister, Najib could be worth a staggering US$17 billion to US$35 billion, using the same average numbers applied on Mahathir. This is perhaps a very conservative figure considering the lavish spending of the “First Family”. But if the number of years in politics is a measurement, Najib’s wealth could be more than that.


PM Najib Razak was already a MP in 1976 at the age of 23. While serving as Minister of Defence, his procurement of two French-made Scorpene submarines alone had netted him RM534.8 million in commission. His 1MDB project, which Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General said was a “Ponzi Scheme”, has accumulated a cool RM50 billion of debt.

1MDB Scandal - Untouchable Emperor Najib Razak - Raining Money

It’s a public knowledge that ever since his political party UMNO lost the customary two-thirds majority, every UMNO warlord has been “aggressively” stealing from the national coffers as if they would lose power tomorrow. Hence, if Najib Razak is a public listed company, this stock can easily command at least 50% premium, pushing his fortune to between US$25 billion and US$52 billion.


Again, there’s no way to accurately put price tags on dictators’ net worth simply because their ill-gotten wealth are very well hidden. People can only speculate and guess. Regardless, there’s little doubt that corrupt leaders in Southeast Asia like Suharto, Marcos, Mahathir and Najib are definitely multi-billionaires. All of them, including Putin could easily make it to the Forbes world’s richest.


  • Update: Walter Bruderer, a Switzerland-based advisor of Gunvor, had written to Finance Twitter and denies that President Putin has any ownership in Gunvor.


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