Marc Rich, founder of the Glencore Xstrata commodities giant who was one of the most famous fugitives from US justice in the 1980s and 1990s until being controversially pardoned by Bill Clinton when he was President, has died of a stroke in Switzerland aged 78.
He will be buried in Tel Aviv on Thursday.
Glencore Xstrata’s chief executive Ivan Glasenberg said: “We are saddened to hear of the death of Marc. He was a friend and one of the great pioneers of the commodities trading industry.”
Rich made his fortune trading oil from controversial regimes, most notably Iran despite US sanctions. In 1983 the US authorities assembled a case of 65 indictments against him including wire fraud, mail fraud, racketeering, trading with the enemies of the US and tax evasion.
But Rich went on the run just before the indictment was laid down and lived in Switzerland as a fugitive for nearly 20 years.
He never returned to the US despite President Clinton pardoning him on his last day in office in 2001. The pardon enraged many Americans, particularly the lawyer and future mayor of New York Rudolph Giuliani, who had been instrumental in assembling the case against him.
The reasons for the pardon were controversial. More generous-minded observers suggested his philanthropic deeds might have swayed the President. Others pointed to the fact that he and his wife, the songwriter, socialite and New England heiress Denise Rich, were big donors to the Democratic party and the Clinton library.