10 Richest Dictators of all Time


It is not always that wealth is accumulated by enterprise or bestowed by inheritance. Sometimes it is gathered on the basis of force brought on by dictatorial politics. In fact some of the most famous dictators have also been the wealthiest individuals of the world even though they don’t find mention in finance magazines. Here is a brief account of ten richest dictators and how they much they were worth.

  1. Sani Abacha

    Former military ruler of Nigeria, Sani Abacha, was one of the richest dictators of the world and certainly the richest in Africa. According to a Forbes article1 on Africa’s richest dictators, upon Abacha’s death in 1998, the Nigerian government uncovered over $3 billion linked to the dictator held in personal and proxy bank accounts in tax havens as diverse as Switzerland, Luxembourg, Jersey and Liechtenstein. The government launched into a hectic series of negotiations with Abacha’s family, following which the dictator’s eldest son agreed to return $1.3 to the Nigerian government in 2002.

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  2. Ibrahim Babangida

    Yet another former military ruler from Nigeria to have hoarded fabulous wealth is Ibrahim Babangida. He ruled the country from 1985 to 1993 and is widely believed to have laundered some $12 billion earned from an oil windfall during the 1992 Gulf War. However he has consistently resisted any attempt to give accounts of his wealth to the Nigerian government. At the moment, Babangida’s wealth is invested through several proxies in a string of businesses owned or managed by wealthy Nigerian businessmen, one of whom, the Forbes article mentions is likely to be Mike Adenuga is Nigeria’s second wealthiest individual with a personal net worth of $4.3 billion USD.


  3. Mobutu Sese Seko

    From 1965 to 1997 ,Mobutu Sese Seko was the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, also known as Zaire for most of this period . Over his 30-year reign as ruler of the Central African country, Sese Seko amassed a personal fortune estimated by various sources, including Transparency International,  at somewhere between $1 billion and $5 billion. Most of this money came from his absolute control over the mines and other natural resources of the country. Even though the exact amount of his wealth was never known, it was well reflected in Sese Seko’s lavish lifestyle He owned a string of exotic Mercedes cars and divided his time between plush palatial residences in Paris and Lausanne, Switzerland. According to the Forbes article, Sese Seko also developed a special taste for pink Champagne and flew in fresh cakes from Paris when the mood struck him.

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  4. Hosni Mubarak

    It is only now after the 2011 Egyptian Revolution that reports of the massive wealth accumulated by former President and ruler of the country, Hosni Mubarak, is spilling out. The military leader ruled the country unchallenged for almost four decades from 1981 to 2011. Reliable information about his assets is notoriously difficult to come by. In the heady times following the Egyptian Revolution, news sources on his wealth were hysterically exaggerated. In February 2011 ABC News reported that experts believed the personal wealth of Mubarak and his family to be between US$40 billion and $70 billion founded on military contracts made during his time as an air force officer. Britain's Guardian newspaper went a step further and reported that Mubarak and his family might be worth up to $70 billion due to corruption, kickbacks and legitimate business activities. The money was said to be spread out in various bank accounts at home and abroad, including Switzerland and Britain, and also invested in foreign property. However finance experts now believe that these reports of Mubarak’s wealth are unrealistic but according to the Forbes report it could still run in between nine to ten figures.
  5. Hassanal Bolkiah

    Hassanal Bolkiah is the 29th and current Sultan of Brunei. Under Brunei's 1959 constitution, the Sultan is the head of state with full executive authority, including emergency powers since 1962. On 9 March 2006, the Sultan was reported to have amended Brunei's constitution to make himself infallible under Bruneian law. Bolkiah is also the Prime Minister as well as holding the portfolios of Minister of Defense and Finance. As is the case with most dictators, it is difficult to differentiate between personal and state wealth. Even then, the Sultan is believed to have a net worth of $ 20 billion USD, according to an estimate by Forbes 2.
  6. Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz

    King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz is the ruler of Saudi Arabia and is estimated to be worth about $18 billion. The head of a prodigious family, Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz is also the absolute ruler of the Arabian principality. Even though the financial health of Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil monopoly and chief source of royal wealth has suffered post global recession, the Saudi royal family has been quite active in investing much of its oil-generated wealth into other businesses outside the country.
  7. Teodorin Obiang

    Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodorin Obiang is the only African dictator whose wealth has been estimated by FORBES. In 2006, FORBES estimated his fortune at $600 million even though his government was quick to reject the figure. Obiang has ruled the Equatorial Guinea for over 32 years and make the most of its vast and as yet untapped oil reserves. Sometime back Obian’s eldest son was in international news Obiang’s for his outlandish lifestyle which range from a $10 million car collection, a $30 million Malibu mansion and a $38.5 million Gulfstream jet to over $2 million of Michael Jackson memorabilia.
  8. Daniel Arap Moi

    Former President of Kenya who ruled the country from 1978 to 2002, Daniel Arap Moi, is unofficially one of the richest men in the country. During his 28-year rule Moi is believed to have diverted nearly a  billion dollars from his country’s revenues to family-owned bank accounts and private estates across the world using a web of shell companies, secret trusts and front men. ,Kroll Associates, a corporate investigation and risk consultancy company estimates that, Moi’s assets, some of which are held in his children’s name, range from enormous cash reserves to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, to a 10,000-hectare farm in Australia and controlling stakes in oil companies, banks and shipping companies, among other concerns.
  9. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

    The ruler of yet another Arab princely state, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai is estimated to have wealth in excess of $4 billion. Even though Dubai experienced the knocks of global recession and the emirate had to call upon help from fellow UAE member Abu Dhabi, Dubai still functions as the leading retail, financial and tourist hub for the Mideast. The Sheikh’s position thus as the absolute ruler of the state as well as one of the richest royals in the world remains secure.
  10. Saddam Hussein

    One of the many dictators to meet violent ends, Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq with an iron fist from 1979 till he was captured and hanged in his own country in 2006. For some two decades he enriched himself off Iraqi oil revenue, building palaces all over the desert nation and waging expensive wars. a Forbes estimate3 of Hussein’s net worth put it in the region of $ 2 billion in the year 2003.


  1. Forbes - Who Were Africa's Richest Dictators?
  2. Forbes - The World's Richest Royals
  3. Forbes – Kings, Queens and Despots – Saddam Hussein