Charles Taylor of Liberia
(1997 – 2003)
Charles Taylor of Liberia was one of the few corrupt leaders on this or any list that resigned from power. He was born in Liberia but went to Bentley College in the U.S. before returning to Liberia as part of Samuel Doe’s government. He was fired for embezzling $1 million into an American bank account and he fled to the U.S., where he was arrested. He escaped custody and fled to Libya where he formed the National Patriotic Front of Liberia. This started the First Liberian Civil War which ended in 1996. Charles Taylor then ran for President with the infamous slogan “He killed my ma, he killed my pa, but I will vote for him.”
As President, he created his own private army while reducing the size of the Armed Forces of Liberia. He was charged with war crimes for his ties to the violence in Sierra Leone in 2003 which included murder, enslavement and the use of child soldiers. He also was believed to have accepted diamonds in exchange for weapons to support the rebels in Sierra Leone.
His corruption of the treasury and industry was as bad as his human rights abuses. He was known to take revenue from the Liberian logging industry. He used that money not only for his own gain but to fund rebels in other states and to destabilize the region. The logging companies all paid funds to Taylor while also providing a way for him to smuggle arms into the country even after arms embargoes were imposed on Liberia. He was believed to have amassed of fortune of $100 million despite Liberia being a desperately poor country.
In 1999 as he was being accused of being a gun runner and a diamond smuggler. He was indicted on 11 counts of crimes against humanity and in 2003 he was asked to step down by President Bush and the international community. He was later convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison.