Marc Rich

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Marc Rich, who likewise was implicated in the BCCI scandal,[1] is the biggest tax cheat in American history. Rich fled the country. He was a big donor to the Clintons and the Democratic party, so Bill Clinton wanted to pardon him. Eric Holder, who later served as Barack Obama's Attorney General, arranged the pardons.[2] Former President Jimmy Carter publicly called it "disgraceful".[3] Rich's wife then donated at least $450,000 to the Clinton Foundation.


Rich has been accused of looting the disintegrating Soviet Union with Communist Party officials and their associates in the mid 1980s and early 1990s. Based in Switzerland, Rich instructed Communist party bosses how to skirt the law by doing secret deals through shell companies and the like. There were allegations in the Russian press and elsewhere that Rich was aiding and abetting capital flight from the country, but he was never charged.

A widely read 1999 article in the foreign-policy journal The National Interest, written by ex-CIA officer and National Security Council staffer Fritz W. Ermarth, noted that, as far back as 1985, the KGB was engaged in the massive transfer of assets abroad via commodities trading through front companies. Rich became the largest trader in Russian aluminum and oil.

“Applying the lessons they learned from Marc Rich, they bankrupted Russia,” said Paul Klebnikov, author of Godfather of the Kremlin. “As a result, you have a ruined economy, bankrupt government, and an impoverished population.”

At the time Clinton pardoned Rich, the New York Post observed:
"Tens of millions of Russians are suffering through the worst winter there in 50 years. They and their government are broke. There is no money to buy coal to run the power stations. People are sick, cold and dying. They are freezing to death in the dark. One man told the Red Cross that life has turned into “a permanent struggle for survival. It’s not even life, it’s just existence.”[4]

Panama Papers

Marc Rich figures in the Panama Papers. He appears in the leaked documents in connection with Industrial Petroleum Ltd., registered in the Bahamas in 1992,[5] and owned by Glencore International. Rich, who died in 2013,[14][15] was indicted in 1983 on 65 criminal counts and fled to Switzerland.[16] The fugitive billionaire received a controversial presidential pardon from Bill Clinton. Charged with income tax evasion, wire fraud, racketeering, and trading with Iran during the oil embargo, while Americans were still being held hostage there, he could have been sentenced to 300 years in prison.[14][17] He was also accused of keeping South Africa supplied with oil between 1979 and 1993, partially during the time when official anti-apartheid sanctions were passed by US Congress.[18]

His ex-wife Denise made a $450,000 donation to Clinton's presidential library in Little Rock, Arkansas and an additional $1.2 million in donations to Democratic Party political campaigns, including Hillary Clinton's first bid for the Senate.[5] Clinton critics called it a quid pro quo, but both Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, and former prime minister Shimon Peres personally asked Clinton to pardon Rich. After the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Rich supplied Israel with oil. In addition, Rich, whose family escaped Nazis in 1941, funded operations to help Jews leave Yemen and Ethiopia during the 1970s and 80s.[19] Rich had contributed intelligence to Mossad (the Israeli intelligence services), wrote Salon's Joe Conason. "Winning the pardon was a top priority for Israeli officials because Rich had long been a financial and intelligence asset of [Israel], carrying out missions in many hostile countries where he did business," and the US wanted Israeli cooperation in upcoming peace talks.[20]

See also