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Marc Rich
Born December 18, 1934 (1934-12-18) (age 75)
Antwerp, Belgium
Nationality Spain
Alma mater one term, New York University, New York City, New York, United States
Occupation Commodities trader
Known for trading activities
Spouse(s) Denise (née Eisenberg) Rich (1966-1996 - divorced)

Marc Rich (born Marcell David Reich, December 18, 1934) is an international commodities trader.[1] He was indicted in the United States on federal charges of illegally making oil deals with Iran during the late 1970s-early 1980s Iran hostage crisis and tax evasion. He was in Switzerland at the time of the indictment and has never returned to the U.S. He subsequently received a presidential pardon from U.S. President Bill Clinton on January 20, 2001, Clinton's last day in office.


Early life, marriage and career

Rich was born to a Jewish working-class family in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1934. His family emigrated to the United States in 1942 to avoid the Nazis. Rich attended high school at the Rhodes Preparatory School in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York. He later attended New York University, in Manhattan, but dropped out after one semester to go work for Philipp Brothers (now Phibro LLC). Rich worked as a commodities trader for his father, who sought to build an American manufacturing fortune through burlap-sack production.

Rich married Denise Eisenberg, a songwriter and an heiress to a New England shoe manufacturing fortune, in 1966. They divorced in 1996; she continues to use the name Denise Rich. They had three children.[2][3]

He worked with Philipp Brothers, a dealer in metals, learning about the international raw materials markets and commercial trading with poor, third-world nations. One of his biggest market coups came during the 1973-1974 Arab oil embargo, when he used his Middle Eastern contacts to circumvent the embargo and buy crude oil from Iran and Iraq. After purchasing the crude for roughly US$12 per barrel, Rich doubled the price and sold it to supply-starved U.S. oil companies. In 1974 he and co-workers Pincus Green and Joseph Zientek set up their own company.

Rich's tutelage under Philipp Brothers afforded Rich opportunities to strike deals with various dictatorial régimes and embargoed nations, such as Iran, using a special relationship with Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran.

His company, Marc Rich Real Estate GmbH, is involved in large developer projects (e.g., in Prague, Czech Republic)[4]. Rich was also accused of being involved with the Bank of Credit and Commerce International.

Forbes ranked Rich as the 242nd-richest American in 2006 with a net worth of US$1.5 billion.[1]

U.S. indictment and presidential-pardon controversy

In 1983 Rich and Green were indicted by then-U.S. Federal Prosecutor (and future mayor of New York City) Rudolph Giuliani, on illegal trading with Iran and charges of tax evasion. They were indicted while they were in Switzerland. The pair failed to return to the U.S. following the indictment, and were on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Ten Most-Wanted Fugitives List for many years. In 1989 the U.S. Justice Department ceased using statutes of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act in tax cases such as the one in which Rich and Green were indicted, and relied instead on civil lawsuits.[5] However, Marc Rich remained on page 1 of the Justice Department's Most Wanted International Fugitives. [6]

On January 20, 2001, hours before leaving office, Clinton granted Rich a presidential pardon. Because Rich's former wife had made large donations to the U.S. Democratic Party and the Clinton Library during Clinton's time in office, Clinton's critics alleged that Rich's pardon had been bought. Marc Rich had also made substantial donations to Israeli charitable foundations. Clinton explained his decision by noting that similar situations were settled in civil, not criminal court, and cited clemency pleas from Israeli government officials, including then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Federal Prosecutor Mary Jo White was appointed to investigate. She stepped down before the investigation was finished and was replaced by James Comey. Comey was critical of Clinton's pardons and Eric Holder's pardon recommendation.[7]

As a condition to the pardon, it was made clear that Rich would drop all procedural defenses against any civil actions brought against him by the U.S. upon his return there. That condition was consistent with the position that his alleged wrongdoing warranted only civil penalties, not criminal punishment. As of April 2009, Rich has not returned to the U.S.

During hearings after Rich's pardon, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who had represented Rich from 1985 until the spring of 2000, denied that Rich had violated the tax laws but criticized him for trading with Iran at a time when that country was holding U.S. hostages.[8]

In his February 18, 2001, op-ed essay in the The New York Times, Clinton (by then out of office) explained why he pardoned Rich, noting that U.S. tax professors Bernard Wolfman of the Harvard Law School and Martin Ginsburg of Georgetown University Law Center, concluded that no crime was committed, and that Rich's companies' tax-reporting position was reasonable.[5] In the same essay Clinton listed Libby as one of three "distinguished Republican lawyers" who supported Rich's pardon.

Clinton's pardon was also supported by the Spain's King Juan Carlos I.[citation needed] Speculation about another rationale for Rich's pardon involves his alleged involvement with the Israeli intelligence community.[9][10]


Marc Rich's corporate legacy is Glencore International AG, a company he founded in 1974 with Green. It is headquartered in Baar, Switzerland but has large subsidiaries in London, United Kingdom and Rotterdam, Netherlands.[citation needed]. Glencore has also spawned many imitations.[citation needed]


Although Rich believed that he had relinquished his United States citizenship when he became a citizen of Spain, an appeals court ruled in 1991 that for purposes of U.S. law Rich remains a citizen and therefore is still subject to U.S. income taxes.[11] In order to renounce U.S. citizenship, a citizen must "appear in person before a U.S. consular or diplomatic officer" outside the U.S. and "sign an oath of renunciation".[12] Today he holds Spanish and Israeli passports.[13]

Private life

After spending several years in Canton of Zug, Switzerland, Rich moved to Meggen, a city in the Canton of Lucerne, Switzerland, residing in a house called "La villa rose" (the pink villa) on the shores of Swiss Lake Lucerne, where he zealously guards his privacy.

Rich also owns property in the ski resort of St. Moritz, Switzerland, and in Marbella, Spain. He is an important art collector and friends say he lives surrounded by Renoirs, Monets and Picassos.[14]


In May 2007 Rich received an honorary doctorate from Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel, in recognition of his contribution to Israel and to the university's research programs.[15][16] He received the same honor from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba, Israel, on November 18, 2007.[17] The Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer in suburban Tel-Aviv, Israel, honored Rich with the "Sheba Humanitarian Award 2008". Former recipients of this award include actor Michael Douglas, actress Elizabeth Taylor and former U.S. President Gerald R. Ford.[citation needed]

Works about Marc Rich

  • Copetas, A Craig (1985). Metal Men: Marc Rich and the 10-Billion-Dollar Scam. New York: Putnam. ISBN 0-399-13078-0. 
  • Ammann, Daniel (2009). The King of Oil: The Secret Lives of Marc Rich. New York: St. Martin‘s Press. ISBN 0-312-57074-0. 


See also

External links



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