Mark Rich and the Russia Connection Christopher Ruddy Monday, Feb. 19, 2001
Marc Rich may have a pardon clearing him to enter the U.S. at any time, but don't expect him ever to return. Washington sources tell me that congressional investigators would love to slap him with a subpoena upon arrival and haul him before congressional hearings and the cameras for interrogation.
The Clinton pardon deal may just be one small part of what Congress may want to find out from Rich.
Perhaps the most serious concern for congressional investigators is Rich's longstanding ties with Russian intelligence agencies, the Russian mafia, and some of the old communist states of East Europe.
Last week the New York Post's Rod Dreher reported that Rich made tens of millions of dollars helping Russia’s communist bosses loot their country, leaving it bankrupt.
Rich’s role in ruining Russia’s economy was detailed in the book "Godfather of the Kremlin," by Paul Klebnikov, who Dreher describes as an expert on Russia and a Forbes magazine senior editor.
The book reveals how Rich and Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky and associates stole untold sums from the Russian people through corrupt international financial manipulations.
In 1983, the year he fled the United States to avoid prosecution, Rich took advantage of the grain embargo the United States imposed on the USSR because of its war in Afghanistan.
Rich ignored the embargo and imported grain into the Soviet Union, winning friends in the Soviet hierarchy with whom he would ally himself when the Communist government collapsed.
According to NewsMax.com Washington sources, from then on Rich was associated in his business dealings "by the Communist Party and KGB senior figures. Everybody in that carousel, commie and KGB, got personal benefits ... commissions in Western accounts."
It is widely believed by intelligence experts that today's powerful Russian "mafia" is nothing more than an arm of Russian intelligence agencies, such as the former KGB.
Other evidence suggests Rich had more than a casual business relationship with Russia's spy agencies.
Appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live" earlier this month, former head of the U.S. Marshals Service Howard Safir revealed efforts by East Germany, then a Russian satellite state, to get Rich off the hook.
Safir said, referring to Rich, "You are talking about an individual, when I did a spy exchange in 1986, he had a lawyer from East Germany offer $225 million for him and Pinky Green if the prosecutions were wiped out."
According to Klebnikov, Rich came into the picture again as a major wheeler-dealer in Russia around 1990, when the Soviet Union began to open up to outsiders, Dreher wrote.
"Governmental authority began to crumble. All these local Communist Party bosses got to strike deals on their own," the author told Dreher.
Working out of Switzerland, which has secretive banking laws, Rich was in a prime position to help Russia's plunderers carry out their dirty work," Dreher wrote.
"Klebnikov reported that Rich dealt in oil, aluminum, zinc and other raw commodities.
"He'd strike a deal with the local party boss, or the director of a state-owned company," Klebnikov told Dreher. "He'd say, 'OK, you will sell me the [commodity] at 5 to 10 percent of the world market price.
" 'And in return, I will deposit some of the profit I make by reselling it 10 times higher on the world market, and put the kickback in a Swiss bank account.' "
"He made a complete mint off of Russia," says Klebnikov.
Rich began buying Russian aluminum at absurdly cheap prices, with his hard currency. Rich then dumped the aluminum onto Western industrial markets, causing a 30 percent collapse in the price of the metal, as Western industry had no way to compete.
There was such an outflow of aluminum from Russia that there were shortages of aluminum for Russian fish canneries. At the same time, Rich reportedly moved in to secure export control over the supply of most West Siberian crude oil to Western markets.
Rich's companies were under investigation for fraud in Russia, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal of May 13, 1993.
As a result, for at least two years, while the Soviet Union was writhing in its death throes, Rich was that nation's largest trader of aluminum and oil on a spot basis.
According to Dreher, a former foreign-trade minister told the author that Rich taught the robber-baron elite how to get around the law by running secret deals through shell companies and the like.
In an interview with Forbes magazine, a former Russian trade minister, Oleg Davydov, told Klebnikov that in the rush to privatize government-owned industries the Russian government made a serious mistake by immediately dismantling the government foreign trade monopolies.
"These organizations had decades of experience and representatives all over the world," Davydov explained.
"They charged 0.5 percent commission and remitted all the difference [between domestic commodity prices and world prices] to the government. When these legal channels became inconvenient [for Russia's new businessmen], there appeared a huge mass of foreign entrepreneurs, mostly crooks like Marc Rich, who began to teach us various ways of taking the money out through offshore companies."
"Marc Rich ended up being a mentor to all these young kids who came out of the Communist Party establishment, and who made billions off these schemes themselves," Klebnikov charges.
"Applying the lessons they learned from Marc Rich, they bankrupted Russia," Klebnikov alleges. "As a result, you have a ruined economy, bankrupt government, and an impoverished population."
Rich, headquartered in Switzerland, was well situated to help the Russian mafia. Switzerland has already been identified by international police agencies as a major center of Russian money laundering.
If it is true that Rich and his intermediaries were willing to spend more than $200 million for a pardon for U.S. crimes, it raises questions of whether a lot more money may have changed hands than the few million suspected as donations to the DNC, Hillary's Senate campaign or the Clinton Library.
Could money, for example, have been transferred to an offshore bank account? It's a good question investigators need to ask. Especially since the Clintons have had their own Switzerland connection. Several years ago London's Sunday Telegraph reported that Vince Foster, onetime White House deputy counsel, made frequent trips to Switzerland before the Clintons entered the White House.
Mark Rich laundered money for the KGB during the 80's into a secret bank account which the first Bush administration refused to return the money to Russia when asked by Yeltsin after the collapse of the USSR.
Mark Rich Helped KGB Create Hidden Government,
Newsmax, Saturday, March 31, 2001
"Mark Rich, the most-wanted fugitive pardoned by former President Clinton, was a key figure in the Communist Party and the KGB's creation of an underground government that survived the break-up of the Soviet Union and still rules Russia today behind the scenes. As previously reported by NewsMax.com., in 1983, the year Rich fled the U.S. to avoid prosecution, he took advantage of the grain embargo imposed on the USSR by the United States because of their war in Afghanistan. Rich ignored the embargo and imported grain into the Soviet Union, winning friends in the Soviet hierarchy with whom he would ally himself when the Communist government collapsed.
According to NewsMax.com sources, from then on Rich was guided in his business dealings 'by the Communist Party and KGB senior figures. Everybody in that carousel, commie and KGB got personal benefits ... commissions in Western accounts.' Thanks to the influence he gained from sharing his profits with Party and KGB officials, Rich was drawn into the inner reaches of the hierarchy that ruled the Soviet union and was included in the creation of the sinister, behind-the-scenes government that was designed to outlive the deliberate dismantling of the Soviet Union. According to Dr. Joseph D. Douglas, an expert in national security matters and a former official of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the Defense Department, Rich played an important part in the deception that allowed the old Communist apparatus to maintain its grip on Russia and the rest of the old Soviet Union after the so-called collapse of communist rule.
In an interview with the current New American magazine, Dr. Douglas, an expert on international organized crime and its role in long-term Soviet/Russian strategy, made the startling revelation that "No revolution took place in Russia or the other Soviet "republics" that would account for the sudden dismantling of the Soviet state. Nothing forced the Communist Party of the Soviet Union [CPSU] to relinquish its monopoly on power. In fact, what the CPSU did was diversify its holdings, rather than dispense with its monopoly.' Douglas said that Communist Party bosses surreptitiously 'either created new parties, or took over the leadership of existing ones.' He said that years before the 'end' of the Soviet Union the CPSU and the KGB 'set up all of the structures of what they call the 'invisible party economy.' This was already going on in the early 1980s, even before Gorbachev came along with his 'reforms. Because of the hidden superstructure Rich and his KGB colleagues created, members of the Communist nomenklatura had put themselves in a position to become the masters of the new, "privatized" economy."