- The Washington Times - Friday, May 5, 2006

NEW YORK (Agence France-Presse) — Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, Cuban President Fidel Castro, Monaco’s Prince Albert II and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II are among the world’s wealthiest rulers, Forbes magazine reported on its Web site yesterday.

Featuring monarchs, presidents and other leaders, the list is topped by Abdullah, 82, who became Saudi Arabia’s sixth king in August 2005 and is worth an estimated $21 billion, according to the Web site.

In second place, with $20 billion, is 59-year-old Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, followed by the president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan, 58, with $19 billion.

Dubai’s ruler, 56-year-old Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, came in fourth, with $14 billion, followed by Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, 61, with $4 billion.

The new ruler of Monaco, Prince Albert II, 48, who took over rule of the tiny principality after his father’s death last year, was in sixth place, with $1 billion.

Mr. Castro, 79, came in seventh, with $900 million. Forbes cited former Cuban officials as saying that Mr. Castro had skimmed profits from a Havana convention center, retail conglomerate Cimex and vaccine and pharmaceutical products firm Medicuba to amass his fortune. It noted, however, that “Castro, for the record, disagrees, insisting his personal net worth is zero.”

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the 63-year-old president of Equatorial Guinea, is next on the list, worth some $600 million.

Forbes said Mr. Obiang and his government deposited up to $700 million in the Washington-based Riggs Bank, which was bought by PNC Financial after a money-laundering scandal, but noted that “Equatorial Guinea’s embassy insists the money, which was released back to the country, belongs to the government.”

“Attributing that money to President Obiang’s personal wealth is like saying a person who runs a hospital is worth the amount of revenue the hospital generates,” an embassy spokesman told Forbes in an e-mail.

Mr. Obiang is followed by Britain’s 80-year-old Queen Elizabeth II, who is worth $500 million — not including Buckingham Palace, the crown jewels and some other heirlooms that “belong to the British nation” and are merely “entrusted to her care.”

Rounding out the list is the Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix, 68, who has $270 million to her name.

Forbes acknowledged that the list was difficult to compile.

“These fortunes are derived from inheritances or positions of power. And the lines often blur between what is owned by the country and what is owned by the individual,” it said.

“Even stickier: Proving a dictator controls funds and uses them for personal gain — not for the country’s benefit,” Forbes said.

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