Marc Rich dies, ending a long, strange saga

Notorious on many counts, including a last-minute pardon by President Bill Clinton, the rogue financier had a pretty cushy life on the lam.

By Jonathan Berr Jun 26, 2013 12:29PM
Swiss billionaire Marc Rich in 2007 (© Gil Cohen Magen/Reuters)Financier Marc Rich, who died Tuesday, didn't spend too much time hiding during the decades in which he was a fugitive on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.

As NBC News noted in 2001, after fleeing the U.S. in 1983 ahead of being indicted for illegal oil trading with Iran, tax evasion and racketeering, Rich enjoyed a lifestyle that most people would envy. He decorated his Swiss mansion with fine art, including works by Pablo Picasso, his favorite artist. When Rich decided to go on vacation, he could travel to his properties in the swanky Swiss resort St. Moritz or the posh Spanish beach resort of Marabella.

Rich (pictured in 2007) had renounced his U.S. citizenship and managed to avoid capture by law enforcement a few times, according to media reports. Authorities in Switzerland refused to extradite him because tax evasion there isn't considered a crime. He also won over people in Switzerland and Israel, thanks to his charitable works.

One thing is for sure: Nothing stood between Rich and making a buck.

While 52 Americans were being held hostage in the U.S. Embassy in Iran under brutal conditions, Rich and his partner Pincus Green made a fortune trading with Ayatollah Khomeini's regime despite a strict trade embargo. He also exploited the energy crisis in the U.S. by secretly buying millions of barrels of Texas crude, then under price controls, and selling it on the open market for a $100 million profit. Along the way, Rich sold the 20th Century Fox film studio for $250 million.

Ironically, Rich's companies continued to do business with the U.S. government while he evaded attempts to bring him to justice. As Bloomberg News noted, congressional investigators in 1985 discovered that Rich's Swiss grain business had generated almost $100 million in sales through an Agriculture Department program.

His empire also sold $30 million of nickel, copper and zinc to the U.S. Mint and got assistance to buy an alumina plant in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Rich, who always maintained his innocence, made headlines again when he was given a pardon by President Bill Clinton on his last day in office. As The New York Times noted, last-minute pardons are not unusual, "but this one raised a furor."

That may be an understatement. Republicans were outraged because Denise Rich, Marc's ex-wife, was a donor to the Clinton Presidential Library. It was a black mark on Clinton's legacy. Denise Rich renounced her U.S. citizenship last year.

Marc Rich's career was on the skids in the past few years. He sold Marc Rich & Co. in 2004 after bets he made on the zinc market went sour and the company faced bankruptcy. That company is now known as Glencore Xstrata. Forbes dropped Rich from its Forbes 400 list of the 400 wealthiest Americans in 2010, "given a lack of information and evidence of sufficient wealth."

Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter @jdberr.

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Jun 26, 2013 1:59PM
As usual in this country, to the victor goes all the spoils.  If you're rich enough, you are above the law and can do anything you want.  Justice is a joke.
Jun 26, 2013 1:38PM
Silly me, but if someone's under an indictment, the government should not do business with that company.  But I guess when you are super rich, you get to make the rules. can you imagine the cloud of stink there would have been if a Republican president had pardoned him??   But when you give LOTS of money to Clintons library, anything goes.
Jun 26, 2013 1:30PM
Jun 26, 2013 1:34PM

another billionaire dies to the equalizer and now he answers to god. Made his money smuggling and renounced his citizenship when he was asked to pay taxes. If you ever need an example of why i despise the rich this guy is perfect. Being an american means nothing to the rich their only love is self and money


The loser stole millions, but the useless Feds are to busy digging up Hoffa's remains.  Get rid of them all.

Jun 26, 2013 1:27PM
no big lost he lost track of reality a long time ago  greed was his boss
Jun 26, 2013 2:36PM
can you say eric holder, head of the criminal division. he signed off on the pardon
Jun 26, 2013 1:15PM
So much for the given, paying taxes and death.
Jun 26, 2013 2:08PM

Another example of "law abiding" democrats who pilfer the world and avoid taxes while getting a get out of jail free card from the President they paid for. Sounds like President Obama and George Soros all over again.


Another match made in political heaven.



Jun 26, 2013 1:42PM
How's the saying go?  You can't take it with you!
Jun 26, 2013 1:46PM
Jun 26, 2013 3:20PM
Pardoning a tax evader is reprehensible to the tax payers. Same tax payers that paid your salary, slick Willy Clinton. I may have shoved cigars into that interns hole. But I did not have sexual relations with her, at the Whitehouse, while addressing the nation.
Jun 26, 2013 2:52PM
Ha Ha - He beat the Feds and enjoyed the remainder of his life.

Yeah Yeah - The Clintons needed the cash for their library.  What else is new for Democrats.

Now - Everybody remember this when Hillary raises her ugly head again.
Jun 26, 2013 2:38PM
well means I was right about Clinton from day one he's a crook !!! if Clinton pardoned him after the first election he wouldn't have  lasted long !!!!
Jun 26, 2013 2:57PM

Let us not forget what was called in 2001 "Clinton Fatigue."


The U.S. was worn out by Clintons' ongoing pattern of loose with the facts, head-shaking moments of personal arrogance and policy missteps. 


Mark Rich was in a long line of Clinton Fatigue episodes. 

Jun 26, 2013 3:47PM
All  that running,cheating, lying and scheming  might have made Rich a billionaire, but in the end he was no better off and just as dead as the rest of us. The only difference is he was hated by most everyone in this country.
Jun 26, 2013 3:38PM
I've always wondered if Clinton and Denise Rich ever did the old dance of the chicken neck like Clinton and Monica did.
Jun 26, 2013 1:47PM

not that I care but it would be nice to know how he died.

Jun 26, 2013 2:02PM

The bastard dealing with the Iranians.  Oh wait, this from Wikipedia:


During the , senior administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to , the subject of an Some U.S. officials also hoped that the arms sales would secure the release of hostages and allow U.S. intelligence agencies to fund the . Under the , further funding of the Contras by the government had been prohibited by Congress.

Jun 26, 2013 1:49PM
funny a article on newtown  gun dealer arrested for paper work and a few other charges.  well what do you know we already had laws on the  books  when that happen  who dropped the  ball  ??? but there is no comment  page  
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