Marc Rich, the commodities trader who fled to Switzerland in 1983 to escape prosecution for white-collar crimes and later received a pardon from President Bill Clinton, is reportedly yet another victim of disgraced financier Bernard L. Madoff, according to a report in the New York Times.
According to one Times source, Rich knew money manager J. Ezra Merkin through the Fifth Avenue Synagogue in New York, where he was once a member. It was via Merkin that Rich’s funds got linked to Madoff, who has confessed to running a “Ponzi” scheme that has cost his investors billons.
The loss to Rich was $10 million to $15 million, according to the Times, which references someone with longtime knowledge of Rich’s finances.
Merkin recently owned up to his clients that he had parked more than $1 billion of their money with Madoff.
Big loser Rich joins other luminary clients of Merkin, including New York University and New York Law School.
Many of those defrauded are suing Merkin for mishandling their funds, but some in the know opine that Rich’s loss will not be enough to draw him out of his decades-long low profile.
In fact, Rich representatives have already diminished the Rich-Merkin-Madoff connection and resultant loss.
Monika Meili, a spokeswoman for Rich’s office in Zug, told Bloomberg News: “We can confirm that the Marc Rich Group and Marc Rich have an insignificant exposure held indirectly, which has no material impact on the overall financial situation of the group.”
Another Times source commented on the likelihood of Rich returning to U.S. shores for purposes of litigating against Merkin or Madoff.
“I don’t think you’ll ever see Marc Rich personally,” said John F. Fornaciari, a Washington defense lawyer at Sheppard Mullin.
Rich relied heavily on his former wife’s contacts as a Democratic fund-raiser to help obtain his pardon. Others recruited to the pardon cause: Ehud Barak, then prime minister of Israel, and the conductor Zubin Mehta.
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