Bar-Ilan to award PhD to pardoned man

Marc Rich, probed for contact with Saddam Hussein, to get degree in Israel.

Saddam 1998 AP 298 (photo credit: )
Saddam 1998 AP 298
(photo credit: )
An Israeli university was awarding an honorary doctorate Tuesday to Marc Rich, who got of a last-minute pardon from then-US President Bill Clinton and founded of an oil trading firm under investigation for dealings with Saddam Hussein. Bar-Ilan University will confer the degree in recognition of the billionaire financier's contributions to Israel and the university's research programs, the university said. The ceremony was set for Tuesday evening. "Bar-Ilan University is one of many distinguished institutions which have benefited from the largesse" of Rich, the university said in a written statement, adding the decision was based on philanthropic rather than personal matters. Officials declined to say how much Rich has given the university, but said his donations have supported research for treatments of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. The university also cited Rich's financial aid in helping Israel resettle immigrants from Yemen, Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union. Rich, 72, made his fortune as a commodities trader and is widely credited with developing the crude oil "spot market." In February, Forbes magazine listed his worth at$1.5 billion (€1.1 billion). In 1983, Rich left the United States for Switzerland after he was charged with US tax evasion and illegal oil trading with Iran. Clinton pardoned Rich of all criminal charges on his last day in office in 2001, drawing accusations he granted clemency as a favor to Rich's ex-wife, Denise, a prominent Democratic party donor. A subsequent investigation produced no charges. In 2005, a commission investigating the United Nations' oil-for-food scandal concluded the Marc Rich Group - a Swiss-based oil trading firm - illegally gave kickbacks to Iraqi officials under former leader Saddam Hussein. Swiss authorities launched an investigation, which is still ongoing. The company has denied the accusations.