Tax Fugitive Rich's Pardon Backfires

New York state officials say they are suing pardoned billionaire financier Marc Rich for income tax evasion and are seeking $137 million owed on money he made in the 1980s while in control of two companies that were involved in illegal oil trading.

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has filed a tax warrant against Rich, who fled the United States to Switzerland 17 years ago under indictment on a string of fraud and racketeering charges, but was controversially pardoned by former President Bill Clinton during his last hours in office.

A congressional panel and a federal grand jury are investigating possible links between campaign donations and the pardon of Rich and others. Marc Rich's ex-wife Denise donated more than $1 million to Democratic causes and $450,000 to the Clinton presidential library.

Although Clinton pardoned Rich's criminal charges and allowed him to avoid prosecution, the pardon left open the government's ability to file civil cases against Rich, who lived in New York in the early 1980s and had offices in Manhattan. The warrant filed by the New York tax department claims $26.9 million in back taxes for the years 1980-82, plus $13.5 million in penalties and $97.4 million in interest.

In 1984, Marc Rich International, Ltd and Marc Rich and Company AG each pleaded guilty to 38 federal criminal counts in a scheme involving the illegal trading of crude oil. The companies paid $150 million to settle the case but the personal case against Rich remained open. Marc Rich International also pleaded guilty to income tax evasion.

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