Friday, October 08, 2004

Interesting name pops up in oil for food

The Captain's Quarters takes note of a few lines in a Fox News report on the oil for food mess. I wasn't aware of this old name being involved:

One name leaps out from the crowd, however. People may recall the pardon scandals at the end of the Clinton presidency in January 2001, just as Clinton prepared to leave office. One pardon in particular raised eyebrows across the political spectrum, and that same name has mysteriously reappeared in the UNSCAM fallout:

In what the report calls, "an open secret," the Iraqi government demanded illicit surcharges of 25-to-30 cents on all barrels of oil bought, which buyers had to secretly pay before the deals were sealed. They complied because the Iraqis were selling slightly below market prices.

One of the most prolific purchasers of the oil was Swiss-based Glencore run by one-time fugitive American financier Marc Rich, which the report alleges paid over $3.2 million in kickbacks to the Iraqi government. Rich, formerly wanted for tax-evasion was pardoned by President Clinton in his last days in office.

The report says that the company denies any inappropriate deals.

At the time of the pardon, many people puzzled over why Bill Clinton would pardon a man who fled the country and whose status as a fugitive had been under negotiation with the FBI just prior to Clinton's action. Instead of cutting a deal with Rich to get him back to the US to face charges, Clinton pulled the rug out from under the FBI. Without the leverage of the charges, Rich had no further motivation to cooperate with the DoJ on any outstanding investigations.

At the time, the presumption was that Rich's wife had donated enough money to buy the pardon. Now, however, the question may be whether Clinton knew about the corruption and feared that an aggressive Bush administration policy would uncover Rich's participation in undermining Iraqi sanctions while Rich raised funds for both his presidential library and Hillary's election. Or maybe the issue runs even deeper than that? (hat tip: G Gotway)