The Presidential Royal Asian Tigers Greed

Over the last 30 years, the amount of money laundered has steadily been increasing. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime approximately estimated that the amount of money laundered globally in one year is 2 – 5% of global GDP, or $2 trillion in current US dollars. Less than one percent of this global illicit financial flow is ever seized and frozen. We might wonder whether criminals are not losers. This is of serious concern to regulators and financial investigators as the proceeds of money laundering fuels serious transnational crime, as research by Celent showed.

To give an insight into different types of Money Laundering, their techniques and the efforts to combat them, Finance IQ examined Asia’s biggest money laundering cases ever. I will add on by sharing the initial series of alleged corrupt Leaders and Money Laundering Cases hopping that those who seek Political Power and Leadership may deeply reflect on Subtle Salient Lessons Learnt from the these Greedy Asian Tigers and avoid overstaying in the Office and avoid falling in the same trap. You leave the dancing floor while the audience is clapping for you.

Ex- President Chen Shui-bian served as President of Taiwan from 2000 to 2008. Despite allegations of corruption during his two terms, Presidential immunity prevented prosecutors charging Chen while he was in office. Upon stepping down in May 2008, legal proceedings against him soon began.

In his defense, Chen stated that “Money is dry, and cannot be laundered. The money is clean, it is not dirty, and does not need laundering.”

Chen received a life sentence in September 2009 after being found guilty on charges of money laundering, bribery and embezzlement of government funds totaling NT$490m, (USD 15m). His wife, Wu Shu-Chen, already jailed for perjury in the case, was also sentenced to life for corruption. Speaking of the sentencing, court spokesman Huang Chun-ming described Chen’s corruption as having done, “grave damage to the country.”

As is the case with many Political Leaders, Chen argued that both the charges and trial were politically motivated, leading him to appeal against the verdict. This resulted in one of the lesser corruption charges that he had embezzled USD 330,000 of diplomatic funds, being overturned by insufficient evidence. While Chen’s sentence has since been reduced to 19 years in prison, both Chen and Wu remain in prison today.

Ferdinand Marcos was a lawyer who ruled as President of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986 before being overthrown by a popular people’s revolt. He was number two (2) on Transparency International’s most corrupt leaders list having laundered billions of dollars of embezzled public funds through the United States, Switzerland, and other countries, during his 20 years in power.

His wife, Imelda, famously left over 2,500 pairs of shoes in her closet when the pair fled Manila. The Amount Laundered has been estimated to be between USD5Billion and USD10 Billion. What was the Punishment? Marcos died of a heart attack in 1989 while in exile in Honolulu, Hawaii, awaiting his trial.

President Suharto ruled Indonesia for 31 years, between 1967 and 1998. Soon after his forced resignation, Time magazine published an article alleging it had traced some $15 billion in wealth accumulated by his family in 11 countries. The magazine also documented more than $73 billion in revenues and assets that had passed through the Suharto family’s hands during his tenure as President of Indonesia.

Suharto amassed an estimated personal wealth of between USD$15 and $35bn which was laundered. The immense scale of his alleged corruption led Transparency International to rank him number one (1) in their league table ranking the most corrupt individuals of all-time.

Suharto stepped down as President on May 21, 1998, amidst growing civil unrest, political discord, and accusations of corruption. Only once out of power did legal action begin against him; a legal action that was however impeded by the former leader’s fading health who was considered too old to be brought to trial. He died in 2008.

To the frustration of his opponents, the apparent reluctance of the judiciary to prosecute Suharto left him free of the prosecution to the very end. In 2008, a civil court judge acquitted Suharto of corruption charges but ordered his charitable foundation, Supersemar, to pay USD 110m. While it was found that money had been diverted from a scholarship fund for underprivileged children, the judge ruled that Suharto and his family were not directly responsible for the embezzlement.

Transparency International described the actions of Former President Suharto as a demonstration of how corruption on such scale, “undermines the hopes… of developing countries”.


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Published by Kemman

Regulatory and Independent Consulting Professional with expertise in Financial Crime Risk Compliance encompassing Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Countering Terrorism Financing (CTF), Anti-Bribery & Corruption (ABC – FCPA & UKAB), Global Trade & Sanctions, Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), Know Your Customer (KYC) and Customer Due Diligence (CDD), Internal Audit Testing, Reviews, Validation, Risk Assessment. Worked in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America (USA). Banking & FinTech, Anti-Sex & Human Trafficking Advocate, FOREX & Cryptocurrency trading, Travel & Tours, Telecommunications & Energy.

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