Marc Rich was a businessman, financier, hedge fund manager and an international commodities trader. He was the founder of Glencore, the commodities company. However his massive wealth was under speculation for several years.
Rich was born on 18th December 1934 in Antwerp, Belgium to Jewish immigrant parents. He went to Rhodes Preparatory School and then attended New York University. He dropped out before he could graduate and started working for the Philipp Brothers which was a metals trader. This was where Rich learned all about the global raw material market and dealing with the third world nations. After assisting his father in his company, Rich co-founded Marc Rich & Co. AG in 1974. The company was later renamed Glencore Xtrata Plc. He was called the ‘King of Oil’ and is also attributed for growing the spot market of crude oil in the early 70s. His experience working at Philipp Brothers gave him the chance to develop relationships with several dictatorial governments and embargoed nations. He later opened up to the biographer Ammann and told him that he made a lot of money by making business deals by violating international trade embargoes.
During the 1973-74 Arab oil embargoes, Rich made use of his contacts in the Middle East to sidestep the embargo and bought oil from Iraq and Iran. He bought the oil at 12 dollars per barrel and then sold it to the oil companies in the U.S for double that price. In 1981 Rich became co-owner of the 20th Century Fox. However after his flight from the U.S Marvin Davis, the other owner sold Rich’s share to Rupert Murdoch for 250 million dollars. His company ‘Marc Rich Real Estate GmbH’ is working on several big developer projects.
Rich led a double life for almost twenty years. One was of a billionaire with huge mansions and high finance and the other was that of a fugitive. He fled the U.S in 1983 when he was 66 years old. Since then he had been a prime target of law enforcement agencies. He was on the Ten Most Wanted list of the FBI. In 1983 he was indicted on sixty five criminal counts which included racketeering, income tax evasion, wire fraud and his trade with Iran despite the oil embargo. All these charged meant three hundred years in prison. After he found out about these indictments, Rich fled the country to Switzerland. His companies pled guilty and paid ninety million fines however Rich remained on FBI’s list for many years. He did not return to the U.S till 1996. President Clinton gave him a presidential pardon, a decision that criticized by many. After living in Zug, Switzerland for several years, Rich went to Meggen where he lived in a house called ‘the pink villa’. He owned many properties including a ski resort in Switzerland and Spain.
Rich died at the age of 78 on 26th June 2013 due to a stroke. According to Forbes his net worth was $1 billion in 2010.