In the years following Bill Clinton’s scandal-tainted presidency, one name keeps popping up time and time again in relation to perhaps the last great brouhaha of that era; that name is Marc Rich.
Marc Rich, born Marcel Reich, was a notorious commodities trader and international financier who was convicted of tax fraud in the U.S. in the wake of oil purchases from Iran during the 1979 American hostage crisis. If that was Rich’s only crime, Washington pundits and insiders might have been able to look the other way when Bill Clinton issued a presidential pardon for Rich on Clinton’s last day in office, January 20, 2001.
But the Iranian oil buys were just a drop in the bucket of Rich’s long and storied career of negotiating metals and commodities deals for vilified dictators and despots around the world, including Libya’s Muammar Gadhafi, North Korea’s Kim Il Sung, Yugoslavia’s Slobodan Milosevic and the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos.
In fact, Rich made his fortune by dealing with states and leaders who were international pariahs and whom U.S. law forbade trade with over five decades. The Iranian dealings were highly illegal and unpopular during a time when the Ayatollah Khomeini was seen as the face of true evil in the U.S. When news of the dealings was made public, Rich became public enemy number one, and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Rudolph Giuliani made Rich’s prosecution his highest priority. The case dragged on two decades. Rich fled the United States to Switzerland, where he remained until his death in 2013, even after Clinton’s pardon, never to return to the country of his youth and education.
Why would Bill Clinton pardon someone so infamous and obviously disreputable? Certainly, Rich had the opposite of popular support in the U.S.; he was a billionaire who boasted of flouting the law and using tax loopholes to his advantage while the country suffered through recession during the 1980s.
The answer may be found in Rich’s wife’s donation of $450,000 to the Clinton Library and $1 million to Clinton-supported Democratic causes in the period prior to Rich’s pardon. Even to this day, Denise Rich remains a close personal friend of the Clintons and a repeated donor to Hillary Clinton’s senatorial and presidential campaigns, despite renouncing her American citizenship for tax purposes.
Denise’s good friend Beth Dozoretz, a veteran Democratic Party contributor, apparently was so close to Bill Clinton that he telephoned her 10 days before the pardon took place to give her advance notice of the good news to pass on to her pal. After Bill left office, Dozoretz was hired for a senior State Department post under Hillary after serving as the finance co-chair of her 2008 presidential campaign. In recent years, she’s supported Hillary’s “Ready For Hillary” Super PAC and donated up to $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation with her husband Ron.
Marc Rich’s former spouse isn’t the only association the Clintons retain with the now-deceased financier. The extended family of convicted money launderer and oil trader Gilbert Chagoury is also well-known to the Clintons. Chagoury sold Nigerian oil with Rich but was prosecuted in connection with embezzlement during the regime of his associate, Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha. Chagoury donated to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Senate presidential run and pledged $1 billion to the Clinton Foundation.
His money laundering conviction was later overturned, and it’s left to observers to ponder if tight connections to the Clintons had anything to do with it. Chaghoury’s nephew Michel in Los Angeles served on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign staff and was a bundler for big-money donors. Other Chaghoury relatives donated heavily to Clinton’s multiple federal campaigns.
Bill Clinton in return has championed Gilbert Chagoury, serving as a keynote speaker when the trader received a “Pride of Heritage” award within the Lebanese community. The Clinton Global Initiative gave Chagoury’s company a sustainable development award in 2009. Chagoury was a guest at Bill Clinton’s 60th birthday party.
Former Rich employee and Russian investor Sergei Kurzin made a fortune in commodities in the former Soviet Union. One of his larger deals was signed off on by Hillary Clinton’s State Department, whereby Russia purchased 20 percent of the United States’ uranium production capacity in 2010. During the time the deal was in negotiation, Bill Clinton was coincidentally given a fee of $500,000 to speak in Moscow by a Russian investment bank promoting the enterprise. At the same time, Kurzin donated $1 million to Bill’s favorite charity, the Clinton Foundation.
Former Rich commodity trading partners Simon and David Reuben made a fortune with their firm, Trans World Metals. Since then, they have been highly enthusiastic supporters of both Clintons, donating tens of thousands to the Clinton Foundation and co-sponsoring a star-studded gala for the charity in London. Other Rich partners and employees such as Clyde Meltzer (who was indicted in 1983 along with Rich) and Gershon Kekst, who handled Rich’s P.R., have been large donors to Hillary’s multiple campaigns. Rich’s former attorneys Jack Quinn, Robert Fink and Peter Kadzik have also donated to Hillary’s various bids for office.
Lastly, there are numerous undisclosed donors to the Clinton Foundation, despite its pledges of transparency in funding, which have links to the commodities and mining industries in Canada and other foreign nations.
In fact, many people suspect the bulk of the funding of the Clinton Foundation, which now boasts an endowment of more than $2 billion, is tied to foreign sources. If the Clinton’s political history was merely in the past, this might not be of such concern. But with Hillary in full-bore 2016 campaign mode and noted donors such as convicted sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein, French hedge-fund manager Arpad Busson, Canadian mining billionaire Frank Giustra (who alone has given the Clintons more than $25 million), U.K. retail magnate Richard Caring, financier George Soros, and hedge fund managers S. Donald Sussman and David E. Shaw supporting her efforts, it’s hard to see where the Clintons’ public interests stop and their private interests begin.
During the administrations of husband Bill, the Lincoln bedroom had a notorious revolving door for big donors. Under Hillary, who knows what might be promised to special interests and global third parties. Clearly, Marc Rich’s associates and their ilk have a favorite candidate in mind for 2016.