Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, February 02, 2009

Holder, Mark Rich, et all

I keep hearing the media talk about Holder's role in the Mark Rich pardon, but no one reminds us why Mark Rich was such a persona non grata, nor are we made aware of his links to the like of Lewis Libby and Bernie Madoff. Also, what did Holder do exactly? So I thought it worth reminding everyone of what the big deal is. And I used Wikipedia heavily here, so . . .

Mark Rich was a commodities trader in New York. He was one of the people who worked in oil commodities and developed a spot market for oil. This put him in the thick of it with countries like Iran. In addition, it was said he had ties to the Israeli Intelligence community.

When the hostages were taken in Iran, Rich was accused of cutting illegal oil deals despite an embargo on Iranian products. Furthermore, he was charged with evading taxes. He and his partner fled to Switzerland and did not return following their indictment in 1983. They were placed in the FBI's most wanted list. Rich, with $1.5 bil to his name was listed as the 246th richest America in 2006. Some of that was through ill-gotten gains, no doubt. He had a wife and three children at the time that he left in New York.

Rich was indicted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) which was initially developed to prosecute the mafia. The Act covers some 35 crimes. If two of these crimes is committed within a 10 year period, the guilty party can be fined up tot 25,000 and get 20 years in prison per racketeering count. In additional, all gains from illegal acts must be forfeited with interest. Those hurt by the racket can file hefty civil suits against the guilty party for damages as well. So you can see why Rich would want to avoid such things.

In 1989, the Justice Department stopped using RICO in tax cases like the one against Rich and relied on civil suits. This is the first justification for Clinton's pardon.


Clinton explained that Rich was not a criminal, but that he was subject to civil suit. And a condition of his pardon was that upon his return to the U.S., he would abandon procedural defenses against suits brought against him. He has yet to return to the US, probably never will, and Clinton knew that. He holds a Spanish and Israeli passport and there are questions about his abandoning US citizenship.

It is also said that Clinton was "bribed" by donations from Rich's ex-wife to the DNC and the Clinton library. Furthermore, Clinton stated that tax specialists had determined that Rich was not guilty of tax evasion. People ranging from Ehud Barak to King Juan Carlos I supported the pardon. Lewis Libby represented Rich from 1985 until the spring of 2000 and agreed that tax laws had been observed by Rich, but that he was wrong (not guilty mind you) to trade with Iran.

Rich had money invested with a hedge fund run by J. Ezra Merkin who in turn was invested with Madoff. Guess how has lost some big money recently? It is estimated that he lost $10-15 mil.

Where is Holder in all of this?

Clinton granted a controversial pardon of Rich upon leaving office in 2000. Eric Holder recommended the pardon, over the objections of the U.S. investigator, James Comey.

I think, the Republican's have a legitimate beef with Holder over the Rich pardon. No matter how you look at it, the pardon looks pretty fishy, as if they were doing legal gymnastics to justify it for political reasons. That would make Holder little better than the Bush appointees. Will it hold up his nomination? Yes. Will it stop it? No. But people will be watch Eric Holder very closely once he is in place.


The Law Talking Guy said...

The Rich pardon was sleazy, but my impression was that Holder wasn't much of a player. He mostly stayed quiet when he should have spoken up - he didn't actively argue for the pardon, I don't think.

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