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Corporate Kleptocracy

Corporate Kleptocracy

What Is Corporate Kleptocracy?

Corporate kleptocracy is a phrase that portrays the greed of corporate executives who utilize insidious strategies to redirect wealth to the detriment of shareholders.

The phrase appeared as part of a report that charged ex-Hollinger CEO Conrad Black and his partners of supposedly embezzling a huge number of dollars from the company from 1997 to 2003.

Grasping Corporate Kleptocracy

Hollinger International was a Canadian-based media company. It owned community papers across the United States and Canada, as well as the Chicago Sun-Times, the Daily Telegraph, the National Post, and the Jerusalem Post. Conrad Black, a Canadian citizen, was the chief executive officer and the company's biggest shareholder.

In 2004, Hollinger and Richard Breeden, former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, drove an inquiry into financial mismanagement at the company. The report denounced Black and the company's chief operating officer, David Radler, of bleeding $400 million from Hollinger north of a seven-year period through obscure management and non-compete fees. The sum addressed 95% of Hollinger's adjusted net income somewhere in the range of 1997 and 2003.

The 513-page report was captioned "A Corporate Kleptocracy." The definition of kleptocracy is a government by the people who look for chiefly status and personal gain to the detriment of the represented. In this case, it was corporate executives who looked for personal gain to the detriment of shareholders. The executives were blamed for utilizing company funds for personal utilization of the company stream as well as attire and gifts for Black's significant other.

Black was sentenced for mail fraud and obstacle of justice, and was condemned to 42 months in jail and fined $125,000. President Donald Trump absolved Black in 2019. Nonetheless, this case — as well as others like Enron, Tyco, and WorldCom — put into high gear a more aggressive strategy from the federal government to hold executives accountable for company activities.

Illustration of Corporate Kleptocracy: RJR Nabisco

Food and tobacco conglomerate RJR Nabisco offers one more illustration of a corporate kleptocracy. During the 1980s, J. Tylee Wilson, chief executive of tobacco goliath R.J. Reynolds, looked for a merger to enhance away from cigarettes and head off expensive litigation due to wellbeing related lawsuits and changing public discernment.

Around a similar time, F. Ross Johnson had managed to become CEO of Nabisco Brands and all the while, increased management's compensation and advantages.

In 1985, the two companies merged to form RJR Nabisco, yet Wilson and Johnson conflicted. Johnson had the option to involve the company's accounts for his very own spending, secured by introducing friendly partners to the board of directors. Johnson wrestled control, yet his lighthearted spending prompted high expenses and a declining stock price.

Leveraged buyout firm KKR thusly acquired RJR Nabisco for $25 billion, in one the biggest leveraged buyouts in U.S. history, and expelled Johnson as CEO after he had basically depleted the company money chests dry.


  • Well known cases of corporate kleptocracy incorporate outrages at Enron, Worldcom, Tyco, and RJR Nabisco.
  • At the point when CEOs or top managers utilize the company money chests as a personal bank account or to steal or commit fraud, investors and different stakeholders can bear the brunt of the fallout.
  • Corporate kleptocracy alludes to the abuse of company assets or management rehearses for personal gain, frequently by high-positioning executives.