Commodities fugitive Marc Rich dead at 78

marc rich
Marc Rich has died in Switzerland at age 78.

Marc Rich, the commodities trader and Glencore founder who received a pardon from former President Bill Clinton on his final day in office, has died in Switzerland at age 78.

"Marc Rich died in Lucerne in a hospital as a result of a brain stroke," Christian König, a spokesman for Rich, said in a statement.

Born in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1934, Rich made his name in the oil market and is often credited with the creation of modern oil trading.

One of the industry's most colorful personalities, Rich lived abroad after being indicted in 1983 for tax evasion, false statements, racketeering and illegal trading with Iran.

Following his indictment, he would become one of the world's most famous white-collar criminals.

But his business career continued, and Rich managed to build a commodities-trading empire while on the lam in Switzerland.

The company he founded there would eventually become Glencore, one of the world's most profitable companies.

Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of the recently merged Glencore Xstrata (GLCNF), said in a statement that he was "saddened to hear of the death of Marc."

"He was a friend and one of the great pioneers of the commodities trading industry," Glasenberg said. "Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with his family at this time."

Rich's eleventh-hour pardon was extremely controversial, and launched a set of congressional inquiries into actions taken by the Clinton administration.

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Before the pardon, Rich's wife made a series of donations to support Democratic Party causes. Critics suggested that the donations and the pardon were connected.

In recent years, Rich, who remained extremely wealthy, was reportedly caught up in the Ponzi scheme run by Bernard Madoff.

According to the New York Times, Rich lost between $10 million and $15 million he had invested with the firm.

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