Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan are among the most corrupt people of the year 2021, according to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
Others on the list issued by the project include Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, and disgraced Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
The project is a non-profit investigative news reporting platform for independent media outlets around the world.
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It says that Ghani deserved an award because he “deserted his people leaving them to misery and death”
According to Drew Sullivan, a co-founder of OCCRP who served as a judge on the panel, ”Ghani was breath-taking in both his corruption and his gross incompetence.”
The list was compiled by a panel of six journalists and scholars who study and report on corruption.
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The panelists included Rawan Damen, Director General of Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ); Will Fitzgibbon, senior reporter with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ); Boyoung Lim, a senior editor at the Pulitzer Center; Louise Shelley, an author and endowed professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University; Paul Radu, award-winning cross-border investigative reporter, co-founder, and Director of OCCRP; and Drew Sullivan.
“It was a banner year for corruption, but Lukashenko stood out from the crowd,” said Sullivan.
Lukashenko, 67, has clung to power in Minsk since 1993, rigging elections, torturing critics, and arresting and beating protesters, all with the aid and approval of the Kremlin, reported OCCRP.
Assad led Syria into a destructive civil war and has stolen hundreds of millions of dollars while clinging to power. Erdogan has overseen a corrupt government that has laundered Chinese funds for Iranian oil using state-owned banks.
Kurz was the leader of the Austrian People’s Party (OVP) who, along with nine other politicians and newspaper persons, was accused of embezzlement and bribery, added OCCRP.
(With inputs from agencies)