If NAB is right
Friday, December 11, 2009
Zardari is the 10th richest head of state
By Sabir Shah
LAHORE: If one combines the US magazine Forbes’ 2009 list of wealthiest 793 billionaires across the globe with its list of 15 Richest Royals and then takes into consideration the National Accountability Bureau (NAB)’s report presented two days ago before the Supreme Court that Asif Zardari possesses a net wealth of $ 1.8 billion, it would transpire that the Pakistani president is the 10th richest sitting head of state on the planet today.
The Presidency and the federal government have vehemently rejected reports about Zardari’s assets, saying that “these are no more than regurgitation of decade-old unproven politically motivated allegations”. They say none of the charges could be proved against him and his martyred spouse.
Heading a nation which is ranked 141st on the Human Development Report 2009 in terms of human and income poverty, President Zardari with $1.8 billion stacked in his wallet is only poorer than eight monarchs and the three-time Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, according to a report compiled by The News by taking into account the 2009 net wealth estimates of the internationally-acclaimed American magazine Forbes and the numbers given by NAB before Pakistan’s apex court.
But surprisingly, the Forbes magazine has not included Zardari in its 2009 list of 793 billionaires due to unknown reasons, though it could not have acknowledged him by placing him in the category of Richest Royals.
The Italian premier, Silvio Berlusconi, with net worth of $ 6.5 billion, is ranked 70 in the Forbes magazine’s list of the top 793 billionaires though. Hence combining the US magazine Forbes’ 2009 list of 793 billionaires across the globe with its list of 15 Richest Royals and then reading the same together with NAB estimates about the Pakistani president’s wealth to ascertain his ranking among the wealthiest state heads, one finds that King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand has topped the list of Richest Royals/Richest Heads of State with net worth of $ 30 billion, the Sultan of Brunei Haji Hassan-al Bolkiah is second with $ 20 billion, the UAE Emir Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan is third with $ 18 billion, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is fourth with $17 billion and the UAE Prime Minister and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid is fifth with $ 12 billion.
Similarly, the longest-serving leader of any G-8 country and the incumbent Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi with $ 6.5 billion (down from $ 9.4 billion last year) should be the sixth in the list of the richest heads of state, as his net worth is acknowledged by Forbes in its annual ranking list of the 793 richest billionaires this year.
Meanwhile, the Prince of Liechtenstein Prince Hans-Adam II is Seventh with $ 3.5 billion, King Muhammad VI of Morocco with $ 2.5 billion is eighth, the Emir of Qatar Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani with $ 2 billion is ninth and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari with net worth of $ 1.8 billion stands at the 10th position.
Prince Albert II of Monaco with $1billion should be the 11th on the list, Sultan Qaboos of Oman with $700 million 12th, Queen Elizabeth of England 13th with over $ 450 million, Kuwait’s ruler Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah with $ 400 million should stand at the 14th position and Queen Beatrix of Holland with $ 200 million should be ranked 15th among the richest heads of state.
According to Forbes magazine, the Thai King Bhumibol is the richest Royal for the second year in a row, though his net worth of $ 30 billion is $5 billion less than last year, as a result of double-digit declines in real estate and stocks owned via the Crown Property Bureau, the state investment vehicle of which he is a trustee.
Similarly, Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, with an estimated net worth of $3.5 billion, is down $1.5 billion since last year, because of the diminished value of his LGT bank. The Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix and her sons reportedly invested and lost up to $100 million with Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff, though the palace denies the rumours.
Queen Elizabeth’s son and heir to the British throne Prince Charles was also reportedly approached by Madoff representatives, but apparently and fortunately for him, he had declined to invest.
Though Prince Albert II of Monaco had no link to any Ponzi investments, his net worth is down $400 million in 2009 to $1 billion, because of a real estate slowdown in Monaco. Forbes magazine went on observing that Saudi Arabia’s slumping economy has trimmed its ruler King Abdullah’s net worth by $ 4 billion this year.