Billionaire trader who funded Mossad buried in Israel

Marc Rich

Marc Rich

Glencore founder Marc Rich, one of the most successful commodities traders of all time, has died aged 79.

Mr Rich, who made his estimated fortune of £1 .5 billion partly through selling oil to embargoed nations – most controversially to Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis – was flown from his home in Switzerland to be buried at the Kibbutz Einat cemetery, near Petah Tikvah.

Born Marcell David Reich in Antwerp in 1934, he fled Belgium with his parents to escape Nazi persecution. The family changed their Germanic-sounding name and settled in Missouri, moving to New York in 1950.

After cutting his teeth at commodity traders Philipp Brothers, he joined forces with colleague Pincus ‘Pinky’ Green to set up March Rich and Co, which was later renamed Glencore. The company became the largest commodity trader in the world and a leading pioneer in the oil spot market.

He was on the FBI's most wanted list for almost 20 years over tax evasion charges, and for his sanction-busting activities.

He fled the US in 1983, but was pardoned by President Clinton on his last day in office in 2001.

Rich supplied much-needed oil to Israel after the Yom Kippur war in 1973. In return, the Israelis - including then prime minister Ehud Barak and former PM Shimon Peres - made pleas to Clinton on his behalf.

Israel had additional reason to be grateful. The tycoon used his enormous wealth to finance Mossad's non-military operations, providing funds for the airlift of Jews out of Yemen and Ethiopia in the 70s and 80s.

Last updated: 2:32pm, June 27 2013