AP — Marc Rich, the trader known as the "King of Commodities" whose controversial 2001 pardon by President Bill Clinton just hours before he left office unleashed a political firestorm of criticism in 2001, died on Wednesday. He was 78. Rich died of a stroke in a hospital in Lucerne, Switzerland, near to his longtime home, according to the Marc Rich Group. His Israel-based spokesman, Avner Azulay, said Rich would be buried in Israel on Thursday.
Rich fled from the United States to Switzerland in 1983 after he was indicted by a U.S. federal grand jury on more than 50 counts of fraud, racketeering, trading with Iran during the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis and evading more than $48 million in income taxes — crimes that could have earned him more than 300 years in prison. Rich remained on the FBI's Most Wanted List, narrowly escaping capture in Finland, Germany, Britain and Jamaica, until Clinton granted him a pardon on Jan. 20, 2001 — the day he handed over the keys to the White House to George W. Bush.
Rich's pardon catapulted him into the headlines once again. According to Federal Election Commission records, Rich's ex-wife, songwriter Denise Rich, gave $201,000 in political donations to the Democratic Party in 2000 as lawyers for the fugitive financier pressed the U.S. government to drop the case. Rich's attorneys turned to Clinton when the Justice Department refused to negotiate. Federal authorities investigated but found no evidence of wrongdoing, while election officials also dismissed a complaint accusing Denise Rich of donating campaign money and furniture to Hillary Clinton in exchange for the pardon. Bill Clinton also denied any wrongdoing and said he acted on advice by prominent legal experts not connected to the trader.HOLDER IS SCUM. CLINTON AIN'T ANY BETTER.
Eric Holder, the current U.S. attorney general, was deputy attorney general to Clinton, and recommended Rich's pardon.