Analysis

The Vast Wealth of Russian, Chinese and Venezuelan Leaders
From left: Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. (AFP/Getty photos)
November 3, 2012
| Security, Economics
| Asia and the Pacific, Russia and Central Asia, The Americas
Summary
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Autocratic leaders of Russia, China, and Venezuela have used their official positions to accumulate vast personal wealth worth billions of dollars, making them and their families among the richest on earth while fostering an atmosphere of corruption that undermines freedom in their countries and helps them strengthen their grip on power.  High level corruption in these countries is an international concern since it can affect their political, security and energy policies and lead to agendas hostile to the United States and its allies.

Control over national budgets provides opportunities for kickbacks to government contracts while influence over law enforcement and the judiciary usually ensures that little attention is paid to such activities.  Those same mechanisms can intimidate legitimate businesses and blackmail or silence opponents or oversight agencies. 

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