Unethical practices of relatives of leaders

Other Names:
Corruption of wives of political rulers
Corruption of children of government leaders

Although political leaders may themselves be untainted by any accusation of abuse of power, their relatives are well-placed to exploit their obviously privileged access to the leader in advancing their own personal interests or those of their family. Whether with the leader's explicit or tacit approval, or not, such apparent influence can be used to advantage in the negotiation of contracts. Particularly striking cases of corruption relate to the wives and families of political leaders in countries with repressive governments. By amassing enormous wealth and transferring funds abroad, individuals may drain the economy by amassing so much wealth that their corrupt practices create a serious burden. Such individuals are protected from having to account publicly for their finances.


Hard evidence is seldom available concerning undue exploitation of the family's relationship with a government leader. Anecdotal evidence is however usually widely available in the affected countries and can affect many aspects of society. There are a number of instances of countries in which the leader's spouse is known as "Mr. Tenpercent" or "Mrs. Tenpercent" in reference to the commission he or she exacts in obtaining approval for contracts. The question of what constitutes undue influence may vary between societies and depend on particular cases.

Counter Claim:

At all levels of society people succeed by making creative use of well-placed contacts. It is unrealistic for those in positions of influence to fail to pass on suggestions to the government leader with whom they have family bonds or to fail to use their influence to pass back any suggestions from the ruler. Gratitude for such assistance can quite reasonably be expressed in financial form. Accusations of any wrong-doing and undue profiting from political connections may thus be quite inappropriate. Instances of those who have not been sanctioned, frequently cited as examples, are Margaret Thatcher's son and Jimmy Carter's brother.

Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Date of last update
06.05.2019 – 19:44 CEST