Marc Rich, the “King of Commodities” trader who fled to Switzerland in 1983 to avoid federal prosecution on more than 50 fraud and racketeering charges — and who was pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 2001 — died Wednesday at the age of 78.
He died in Switzerland and will be buried in Israel on Thursday, said his spokesman, Avner Azulay, in The Associated Press. No other details were given.
Among Mr. Rich’s many charges: Evading more than $48 million in taxes and trading with Iran at the time the United States was trying to negotiate the release of hostages at the U.S. Embassy. He faced up to 300 years in prison and was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.
Mr. Clinton awarded him the pardon in his final hours in the White House — literally, just hours before George W. Bush was due to assume the office, on Jan. 20, 2001.
Federal Election Commission records later revealed that Denise Rich, Mr. Rich’s songwriting ex-wife, donated more than $200,000 to the Democratic Party a year before the pardon was granted, at a time when attorneys were pressuring the Justice Department — unsuccessfully — to let go the case. Attorneys for Mr. Rich then turned to Mr. Clinton for the pardon.
Ms. Rich was also accused of giving campaign money and furniture to Hillary Rodham Clinton to help further her ex-husband’s pardon. Federal investigators never found any proof of wrongdoing.