Marc Rich, the trader known as the "King of Commodities" whose controversial 2001 pardon by President Bill Clinton just hours before he left office unleashed a political firestorm of criticism in 2001, died today. He was 78. Rich died of a stroke in a hospital in Lucerne, Switzerland, near his longtime home, according to the Marc Rich Group. His Israel-based spokesman said Rich would be buried in Israel tomorrow.
Rich fled from the United States to Switzerland in 1983 after he was indicted by a US federal grand jury on more than 50 counts of fraud, racketeering, trading with Iran during the US Embassy hostage crisis, and evading more than $48 million in income taxes—crimes that could have earned him more than 300 years in prison. Clinton granted him a pardon on Jan. 20, 2001—the day he handed over the keys to the White House to George W. Bush—and, though authorities found no evidence of wrongdoing, controversy swirled over the fact that Rich's ex-wife donated $201,000 to the Democratic Party in 2000. Click for more. (Read more Marc Rich stories.)