Donald Trump, during his 2016 presidential campaign, claimed that his net worth was about $10 billion, according to Money Magazine. But recent revelations have shown that Trump is likely worth far less than that.
In fact, according to a New York Times investigation, Trump's businesses have lost staggering amounts of cash — including losses of $1.2 billion over a decade-long period from 1985 to 1994. But even if Trump's claims about his own net worth were true, he still would not be as rich as the world leader he appears to most admire: Russian President Vladimir Putin. The difference is, Putin has accumulated his wealth in secret.
According to economist and Russia expert Anders Åslund, with no public fanfare — unlike Trump who frequently advertises his claimed wealth in public — Putin, during his presidency, has turned himself into the world's richest person. That conclusion comes from Åslund's new book, Russia's Crony Capitalism: The Path from Market Economy to Kleptocracy.
Through the practice of "crony capitalism," Putin has amassed a net worth between $100 billion and $160 billion, according to Åslund's estimates. Crony capitalism is the political practice of a leader placing his "cronies" into powerful positions where they receive unfair advantages in business, according to The Business Dictionary.
According to the Forbes 2019 "Billionaires List," the world's richest individual billionaire is currently Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, with an estimated net worth of $131 billion. But according to the research by Åslund, Putin's wealth may dwarf the fortune amassed and held by Bezos.
Unlike Trump, who is is given to making public displays of his wealth, or what he claims to be his wealth, Putin must remain low-key about his massive fortune. This is because it has all been obtained illegally by stripping wealth and resources from Russian businesses, according to Åslund, who published a summary of his findings on the Atlantic Council blog.
"Naturally, Putin and his cronies cannot enjoy their wealth. It is all about power," the economist wrote on the think tank's site. "If they are not the wealthiest, they fear they will lose power."
Officially, Putin claims that his personal financial situation is modest at best, according to documents posted by Quartz. In his own financial disclosures, he claims to subsist on $135,000 per year from his salary as Russia's president, as well as from a military pension and some small investments.
The U.S. Senate has also expressed suspicion about the true extent of Putin's fortune, as The Inquisitr has reported. Last year, a bipartisan group of Senators proposed a bill that in addition to tightening sanctions on Russia, would also require a "report" on Putin's real financial holdings.