In the late 1980s, at the behest of the Haitian government, a US accounting firm studied the government’s books and determined Duvalier stole at least $300 million. “That was a conservative estimate,” Brian Concannon, a human rights lawyer and director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, told the Monitor this week. “Nobody knows for sure how much he took. We know it was hundreds of millions."
How did he get all that money? "Duvalierism fed on the people's poverty, which he showcased to the international world to attract aid and loans that rarely reached their intended beneficiaries," biographer Elizabeth Abbott writes in Foreign Policy.
Other estimates put the amount stolen at up to $900 million, which Duvalier himself has denied. "I laugh when I hear the amounts: $400 million, $800 million. It's a lot of blah, blah, blah," he told The Wall Street Journal in a 2003 interview.
Of whatever amount he whisked away from Haiti, only some $6 million remains, though it is frozen in a Swiss bank account. In fact, speculation swirls that Duvalier returned this week in an attempt to recover those last dollars before they could be seized by the Haitian government.
IN PICTURES: Haiti earthquake anniversary