Whether due to an actual increase in governmental corruption, or the increase in an investigative press and judicial system, increasing numbers of government leaders are being implicated for corruption. Some withstand the charges, proving themselves innocent, but others are obliged to leave office, accept lesser posts, or remain in office but with a much weakened credibility.
It is usually difficult to obtain hard evidence of impropriety by government leaders although accusations may be detailed in the media. However a report in the 1990s, allegedly emanating from a Swiss banking source, estimated the amount held on behalf of African leaders as being in excess of US$20 billion. Because of the protection offered by parliamentary immunity these tend not to be pursued and seldom lead to any convictions. It is also characteristic of some forms of political debate, notably in Latin America since the end of the 1980s, for accusations of corruption to be used by the opposition in order to embarrass the government, whether or not there is any foundation for such allegations. The following incidents may therefore be considered symptomatic of a much wider pattern of corruption, or perceived corruption, which is especially difficult to document in those countries where there is little freedom of information.
How fortunate for leaders, that the masses do not think. (Adolf Hitler).
The distinction between excess use of power and any abuse of that power may be a matter of judgement concerning styles of governance. With the information available it is difficult to distinguish between unnecessary use of power and deliberate actions of a questionable ethic standard, especially when ethical standards and traditions vary between cultures. It is also difficult to determine any borderline between unethical actions with relatively benign consequences and those with severe consequences for others and which are therefore best termed corrupt.