Saturday, April 13, 2024

Marc Rich Did Business With US Enemies from the US Despite Being a Fugitive


Did Marc Rich even need a pardon? He did business in the United States with our enemies and banned countries. And he did it from here, from New York, even though he was a federal fugitive. I wrote this on February 27, 2001 in my old (and the real) Fox411 column:

EXCLUSIVE Did he even need a pardon? Former fugitive financier Marc Rich has been operating out of 17 offices in the United States for years—despite his status as the world’s most wanted white collar criminal.

The 17 offices of Novarco Ltd., which is Rich’s oil, grain, and commodity trading house in the US, are listed in New York, Connecticut, Texas, Kentucky, the District of Columbia, Missouri, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania. The offices have been in existence since at least 1996. Novarco’s listed US executives include Mike Hopkovitz, Mary Ellen Yacura, and Clyde Meltzer–the latter being the same Rich lieutenant who pled guilty, went to jail, and paid a $5000 fine in the 1980s for being a Rich associate.

When I called Hopkovitz at home in Staten Island NY on Sunday afternoon to ask him about Novarco’s US operations and offices, he said, “No comment, no comment, I have to hang up on you.” And did.

Meltzer and Yacura did not return calls.

In some places, Novarco also operates as something called Global Commodities, which is run by a Joseph Novotny of Potomac, Maryland. The listed phone number for Novarco in Washington DC produces a changed number which is in turn listed under Novotny’s home address in Potomac. Novotny did not return calls.

Novarco functions in the US as a foreign company that exports American grain and oil around the world for exorbitant profits. Its headquarters is in Zug, Switzerland, home of Marc Rich since his exile in 1983. So Novarco is handily escaping paying taxes as a US outfit. Seems that Rich—who left the US and “renounced” his citizenship over a big tax bill—has never changed his tune.

Novarco is registered with the US Department of Agriculture as a licensed exporter since 1995-96. Before that, in the mid to late 80s, Rich used another corporate name—Richco.

But the government suspended Richco from operations in 1989 when it figured out that Rich, the most wanted white collar criminal, owned the company and was making a fortune by exporting US grain. Rich benefited from doing business with the government surreptitiously and received $65 million in subsidies. When he was halted from doing business, Rich evidently changed the Richco name to Novarco and went right back into business.

Novarco AG is just the latest in a long line of names Marc Rich has used to do business around the world and in the US in secret. His original company was called Clarendon, and then morphed into the current Glencore Ltd. of Pennsylvania.

Rich has become infamous for inventing new companies with new names, then pulling the plug on them and starting over under new guises. He is currently rumored to be thinking of selling Marc Rich AG to a Russian company called Crown that operates out of—coincidentally—Zug, Switzerland.

During 1988-92, Rich—under the name Clarendon—made $45 million from doing business with the US government by selling copper, zinc, and nickel to the US Mint for making nickels. That was until then Rep. Bob Wise, now governor of West Virginia, got wise and helped put a stop to the practice.

Rich was personally listed on the General Service Administration’s procurement black list. Clarendon also was on the Defense Logistics Agency’s debarment list for three years from  1984-87, right after his exile.  Clarendon, however, was removed from the debarment list in January 1988 and six months later it submitted a low bid on solicitation by the mint. Clarendon subsequently won 19 other contracts for copper, zinc and nickel.

Beginning in November 1990—seven years into his fugitive status– Rich was also involved in a high profile labor dispute at the Ravenswood Aluminum plant in West Virginia. A total of 1,700 Steelworkers have were locked out of their jobs in a nasty long running fight in which it was proven that Rich had bought Ravenswood from Kaiser Aluminum in 1989. Aluminum is one of Rich’s favorite commodities to deal in internationally.

Rich also owned at least one Texas oil company called Channel Refining, which bought up refineries from Charter Oil in the early 90s and then disappeared. Rich had also been in business with former 20th Century Fox owner and international oil billionaire Marvin Davis.

Additionally, Rich has close ties to United Refining of Pennsylvania owner John Catsimatidis. In the last year United Refining, which has grown quickly over the last 15 years, attempted but failed to buy Getty Oil. Catsimaditis, a large donor to Denise Rich’s charity and to Democratic causes, also owns the Red Apple, Gristede’s, and Sloans New York supermarkets.

Marc Rich has extensive worldwide interests in oil, gas, metals, and grain. For example, Syria—a country that would be thought of as an enemy of Rich’s beloved Israel—lists Marc Rich AG as one of the companies it has term contracts with to process, refine and sell its oil. Other listed companies include Agip, Bay Oil, Chevron, Conoco, Marc Rich, OeMV, Shell, Total. You’ll notice that one of those corporations is named for a single man.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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