ALBANY, NY – Tax officials of New York state are seeking $137 million in back taxes, penalties and interest from Marc Rich, the fugitive financier pardoned by President Clinton.
Clinton’s pardon of Rich at the very end of his presidency has prompted an investigation by Manhattan-based U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White and by congressional committees. They are looking into whether monetary contributions to Democrats by Rich’s ex-wife, socialite-songwriter Denise Rich, and others may have led to the pardon.
“Mr Rich has avoided his tax payments in New York for nearly two decades while he was under federal indictment. It is now time for him to pay the piper,” said state Tax Commissioner Arthur Roth in a statement.
Roth planned a Manhattan news conference late Thursday morning in Manhattan to discuss the action taken by the state. Roth spokesman, Marc Carey, said it was the largest personal income tax case ever brought in New York state.
“We feel that Marc Rich personally benefitted from his admitted fraud of at least two companies he controlled and therefore evaded personal income taxes on the money he realized through his control of those corporations,” Roth said in his statement.
Officials said the collection action represents $26.9 million in back taxes for the years 1980-82, along with $13.5 million in penalties and $97.4 million in interest.
Roth said the state tax department had taken no prior civil action against Rich “in order not to jeopardize the ongoing federal investigation against him that had resulted in numerous criminal charges. Those charges were wiped out as a result of the pardon issued in January by then-President Clinton. That pardon, however, specifically left open the ability for the government to file civil actions against Rich.”
The department says Rich owes New York income taxes for the years he was a New York resident.
The commissioner said the state has filed court papers that will allow it to immediately place a lien on any assets held by Rich in New York state. It wasn’t immediately clear from Roth’s statement what those assets might be.
Department officials said their investigation had concluded that Rich had made money from two corporations that he controlled, Marc Rich International, Ltd., and Marc Rich and Company AG, in the early 1980s when he was a state resident.
In 1984, those companies pleaded guilty to federal charges and paid $150 million to settle the cases, the department said.
In 1983, Rich had been indicted on numerous federal counts in connections with an elaborate scheme involving the illegal trading of crude oil, the department said. He subsequently fled to Switzerland.