Marc Rich, Fugitive Commodities Trader During 1980s, Dies at 78

Photographer: Guido Roeoesli/AFP via Getty Images

Commodities trader Marc Rich is seen in 1998 in Zug. Close

Commodities trader Marc Rich is seen in 1998 in Zug.

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Photographer: Guido Roeoesli/AFP via Getty Images

Commodities trader Marc Rich is seen in 1998 in Zug.

Marc Rich, the commodities trader who fled the U.S. to avoid federal indictments during the 1980s before President Bill Clinton pardoned him two decades later, has died. He was 78.

The businessman with a taste for flamboyant neckties and Cuban cigars was celebrated for inventing the spot-oil market and later became one of the most wanted white-collar fugitives in American history for 17 years. After leaving the U.S., he founded a commodities trader that became the forerunner of today’s Glencore Xstrata Plc (GLEN).

Rich died in hospital early today near his home in Switzerland, spokesman Christian Koenig said by telephone.

Rich fled to Switzerland hours before being indicted in 1983 on more than 50 counts of wire fraud, racketeering, trading with Iran during an embargo, and evading more than $48 million in U.S. income taxes. The charges stemmed from a multimillion-dollar chain of U.S. crude oil deals that roiled the global petroleum industry in the early 1980s.

On the last day of his presidency in January 2001, Clinton pardoned Rich, who repeatedly maintained his innocence.

“We bought the oil, we handled the transport and we sold it,” Rich said about his Iran dealings during an interview for the 2009 book “The King of Oil: The Secret Lives of Marc Rich” by Daniel Ammann. “They couldn’t do it themselves, so we were able to do it.”

To contact the reporters on this story: David Henry in Frankfurt at dhenry2@bloomberg.net; Will Kennedy in London at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Timothy Coulter at tcoulter@bloomberg.net

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