KEY POINTS

  • The richest presidents in the world include Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un and Meles Zenawi 
  • A 2013 investigation found that Kim and his family allegedly controlled around $5 billion worth of assets
  • A major investor in Russia previously claimed that Putin was "the richest man in the world" with a net worth of $200 billion

Government officials aren't usually the first to come to mind when talking about the world's richest individuals, but some countries' leaders, past and current, have net worths that are in the billions.

Former President Donald Trump remains the only billionaire president in American history, with a Forbes estimate putting his current net worth at $2.5 billion. In comparison, President Joe Biden is believed to be worth $9 million and has a yearly salary of $400,000 during his stay at the White House.

Despite his massive fortune, Trump is not among the top five richest presidents in the world, past and current. Read on to find out who the highest-paid leaders are, courtesy of Celebrity Net Worth.

5. Meles Zenawi - $3 billion

Meles Zenawi was the president of Ethiopia from 1991 to 1995 before serving as prime minister of his country from 1995 until his death in August 2012. Having acquired an MBA from Open University in the U.K. and a masters of science in economics from Erasmus University in the Netherlands, he was hailed as one of Africa's most literate and bold-minded leaders. 

During his time as president and prime minister, he introduced the multi-party political system and private press in the country and reduced child mortality rates. He also played an important role in developing the African Union's position on climate change.

At the time of his death in 2012, Zenawi's net worth was around $3 billion.

4. Kim Jong-il - $4 billion

Kim Jong-il became the supreme leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) when he succeeded his father, Kim Il-sung, after the elder Kim passed away in 1994.

He was also the chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea, the general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and the supreme commander of the world's fourth-largest standing army, the Korean People's Army.

Kim Jong-il, who had already suffered two strokes in 2008, died of a suspected heart attack in December 2011. He had a reported $4 billion net worth at the time of his death, according to Celebrity Net Worth. 

3. Kim Jong-un - $5 billion

Kim Jong-un, 37, is the current supreme leader of North Korea, having succeeded his father Kim Jong-il in 2011. His older brother, Kim Jong-nam, was initially the favorite to take over their father's position—until he was arrested in Japan on arrival at Narita International Airport in 2001 for attempting to enter the country using a fake passport.

According to Celebrity Net Worth, a joint investigation by South Korea and the U.S. in 2013 found that Kim Jong-un and his family allegedly controlled as much as $5 billion worth of assets that were spread across more than 200 foreign bank accounts in countries such as Austria, Lichtenstein, Russia, Singapore, China, Switzerland and Luxembourg.

The current leader of North Korea allegedly also owns almost 20 palaces and mansions scattered across his country, over 100 luxury cars, at least one private jet and a luxury yacht that is more than 100 feet in length, reports said.

2. Silvio Berlusconi - $8 billion

Media tycoon and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is the longest-serving post-war prime minister of Italy, having served nine years in total between 1994 and 2011. He is also the second richest leader on this list and the 327th richest person in the world, according to Forbes, which listed his net worth as $8 billion.

Berlusconi, now 85, started making money by securing a small loan from a local bank and overseeing small-scale projects in Milan, before later building 4,000 residential apartments east of the city. He began his career in media in 1973 by launching his cable television company Telemilano. 

He grew his fortune through Fininvest, which holds stakes in Italy's largest media company Mediaset, financial services company Mediolanum, publishing house Mondadori and the soccer team A.C. Milan. 

In 2013, Berlusconi was convicted of tax fraud. While he was sentenced to four years in prison, he ended up serving his sentence by doing unpaid social community work as he was over 70 years old at the time.

1. Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin's wealth has always been a mystery, but Celebrity Net Worth listed his net worth as $70 billion. He currently earns a yearly salary of $187,000 (5.8 million rubles) as president, according to the outlet.

In 2017, Bill Browder, Hermitage Capital Management co-founder and a major investor in Russia during the 1990s, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he believes Putin was "the richest man in the world" and that the president's net worth was around $200 billion, Fortune reported.

Forbes has not included Putin in its annual list of billionaires, with the outlet stating in 2015 that it couldn’t verify enough assets. 

Following a 16-year stint serving in the KGB, Putin was president of Russia from 2000 to 2008. He also served as prime minister from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2012. He is currently serving his second term as the president, which began in 2012.

Modern technologies would guarantee the 'security and reliability' of the online ballot, Vladimir Putin said Modern technologies would guarantee the 'security and reliability' of the online ballot, Vladimir Putin said Photo: Sputnik / Alexei Druzhinin