Billionaire Marc Rich, who invented oil trading and was pardoned by President Bill Clinton over tax evasion, racketeering and busting sanctions with Iran, died yesterday in Switzerland aged 78.
Rich fled the Holocaust with his parents for America to become the most successful and controversial trader of his time and a fugitive from U.S. justice, enjoying decades of comfortable privacy at his sprawling Villa Rosa on Lake Lucerne.
Belgian-born Rich, whose trading group eventually became the global commodities powerhouse Glencore Xstrata, died in hospital from a stroke, spokesman Christian Koenig said.
At the cream-painted, red-roofed villa, with views of the nearby mountains and grounds sloping down to the banks of the lake, security guards and other staff could be seen but there was no sign of family members.
"He will be brought to Israel for burial," Avner Azulay, managing director of the Marc Rich Foundation, said by telephone. Rich will be buried on Thursday at Kibbutz Einat cemetery near Tel Aviv.
Many of the biggest players in oil and metals trading trace their roots back to the swashbuckling Rich, whose triumph in the 1970s was to pioneer a spot market for crude oil, wresting business away from the world's big oil groups.
To his critics, he was a white-collar criminal, a serial sanctions breaker, whom they accused of building a fortune trading with revolutionary Iran, Muammar Gaddafi's Libya, apartheid-era South Africa, Nicolae Ceausescu's Romania, Fidel Castro's Cuba and Augusto Pinochet's Chile.