Investigating Marc Rich and hisdeals with Nigeria's Oil

Through an elaborate network of carrots and sticks anda willing army of Nigeria's soldiers and some civilians,controversial global dealer and billionaire Marc Rich, literally andpractically, made deals and steals; yes, laughed his way to the banksfrom crude oil contracts, unpaid millions in oil royalties and falsedeclarations of quantities of crude lifted and exported from Nigeriafor almost 25 years. Worse, he liftedNigeria's oil and shipped same to then embargoed apartheid regime inSouth Africa. The following is Chido Nwangwu's NEWS INVESTIGATIONREPORT for USAfricaonline.comand TheBlack Business Journal

USAfricaonline.comis listed among the world's hot sites by the international newspaper,USAToday.

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Withouta doubt, Marc Rich remains one of the most controversial businessmenin the U.S. He made waves here in the U.S. following insinuations byconservative activists and other Clinton critics that Rich, throughsome sleek ways, "bought" his January 2001 presidential pardon viahis former wife, Denise Rich. Denise has made donations to thePresident Bill Clinton Library in Arkansas and more than $600,000 toDemocratic Party causes in recent years. Clinton also attendednumerous fundraisers hosted by Denise. Another issue which reflectsthe audacious resolve and strategic ways of the 66-years old Mr. Richis that he hired, shall I simply say, "the best attorney for the job"of getting the Clinton pardon, WashingtonD.C.-based attorney Jack Quinn (who recently served as PresidentClinton's lawyer). Quinn delivered. As they say, the rest is history.As an unfolding drama, those form the core of the American citizens'concerns about Rich (in this 1998 photo) and his methods.

Having stated those basic facts, let's proceed to tackle the MarcRich issue as it pertains our community. Why is Marc Rich, formerPresident Bill Clinton's January 2001 pardonee and fugitive from thelaws of the United States of any significant interest to Nigerians,continental Africans and African-Americans and other Americans who dobusiness with Africans?

First, it is important to examine his consistent and self-servingefforts to undermine pan-African interests in the decolonization ofthe continent.

Second, Mr. Rich's ignoble support for the apartheid regime inSouth Africa places his aggressive business legacy on the wrong sideof history. Speaking of leagcy, I really doubt that Rich really caresabout more than making big bucks, here and there.

Third, our community and readers should know about the millions ofunpaid royalties and misleading declarations he made in the Nigerianoil and gas business through his numerous deals withsoldier-businessmen-politicans who ran Nigeria into an economicstupor.

Fourth, he has been a key player for well over 25 years inNigeria's export of its crude oil. He is not your garden-varietybusinessman. In fact, at certain points in Nigeria's recent economichistory, Marc Rich has been the kingpin.

Forexample, ...surprise, surprise(?) in August of 1999, three monthsafter taking office, former retired General and two-time NigerianPresident Obasanjo (picture, right) and his government announced 16crude oil contracts to replace the 41 approved under previousmilitary governments. Remarkably, the controversial internationalbusinessman Marc Rich "survived" the overhaul of the establishedinternational crude oil trading houses who dominated Nigeria'sexports. They were called the "magnificent seven."

The seemingly ubiquitous Mr. Rich reemerged as a contractor.Unknown to some less savvy officials in Nigeria, he is the operatorof Glencore International AG. The man, in that fateful month hadnetted a new deal, the third best, a direct contract for 90,000 bpd(barrels per day). Also, Gencore was licensed to operate GhanaNational Petroleum Corporation's 30,000 bpd and Nigerian NationalPetroleum Corporation (NNPC) partner Napoil's 20,000 bpd for a total150,000 bpd. Such is the power and reach of Marc Rich, insideNigeria, even in these days of "democracy accountability, probity andintegrity...."

In an insightful report titled "Corruption Flourished In Abacha'sRegime", James Rupert of the Washington Post Foreign Service wrote onTuesday, June 9, 1998: Much of the oil that Nigeria pumps each daygoes to the major international oil companies -- Shell, Mobil,Chevron and others -- that operate the oil fields. But the largestsingle share goes to Nigeria's state oil company, which, under thedirection of Abacha's camp, sells its oil to independent traders.According to official announcements of oil sales and reporting by theLondon-based oil newsletter Energy Compass, Nigeria's main tradingpartners in the Abacha era have been the London-based firms Arcadiaand Addax, and the Swiss-based company Glencore, which was under thecontrol of Marc Rich, an American commodities dealer. (He laterrenounced his American citizenship; he holds Spanish, Israeli and, Ibelieve, Belgian citizenships currently). Rupert added that Abacha'spredecessor, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, "doled out the contracts" to awide circle of supporters, allowing them to take commissions from oiltraders, said Patrick Smith, editor of the London-based newsletterAfrica Confidential."

Rupert's report underscored the fact that when the 1991 PersianGulf War drove oil prices upward, Nigeria earned a windfall thatnever made it to government coffers. Soon after taking power as hewooed political support, Abacha named a commission headed by Nigerianeconomist Pius Okigbo to investigate. Okigbo reported that $12.2billion in oil earnings had disappeared between 1990 and 1994, but noone was ever prosecuted. The former trader, a European, said heparticipated in three oil purchases in recent years -- technicallyfrom Nigeria's state oil company but negotiated with Abacha aides atthe presidential villa. Each contract specified a "commission" to bepaid to a specific beneficiary, he said. He declined to name thebeneficiaries on the contracts he helped negotiate. He said othertraders had noted that sometimes the beneficiary is a well-knownNigerian, and at other times "it's a completely unknown person" whotraders believe is a front for someone else. He said the contracts hedealt with ordered the commissions paid to bank accounts inSingapore, Bermuda and Switzerland."

Also, the Sunday Nigerian Tribune ran a mid-March report whichlinked Marc Rich and some soldiers (including former head of stateretired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari) to the December 31, 1983 coup whichremoved Alhaji Shehu Shagari as an elected president of Nigeria. Thereport noted that Rich's oil deals had been on even before Shagari'selection, implying but without specifying the obvious that he wasequally active during the first tenure of then Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo(with the latter) as a military dictator in Nigeria (February1976-October 1979).

USAfricaonline.comcan report that a number of Nigeria's retired soldiers and a numberof civilian executives in the oil industry were willing allies ofRich as he milked the sweet Bonny Light crude and laughed to thebanks while children and women in Nigeria's riverine areas and in theSahelian, drought-stricken parts, and indeed, most of the country,went to bed hungry and with no books to study in school. He utilizedhis deft and far-reaching "logistical leverage" in Switzerland to"assist" his Nigeria cohorts in making huge deposits in private,secure accounts. Bribery and massive inducement through hard currencytransfers were staples of the Marc Rich financial machine insideNigeria, and beyond.

He operated a number of corporations, and the most significant beingMarc Rich & Co. The same company was involved in the KadunaRefinery Supplemental Steam Production Project.

Michael Dobbs' brief bio of him, includes the following:Mr. Rich was born Marc Reich on Dec. 18, 1934, in the Belgian city ofAntwerp, the only child of a prosperous Jewish family. When the Nazistook over Belgium in 1942, the family fled to the United States,settling first in Kansas City, Missouri, and then in New York, whereMr. Rich's father, David, went into the burlap bag business. TheKorean War created huge demand for burlap bags used for sandbags,pushing prices sky-high and turning David Rich into a millionaire.For Marc, it was an early lesson in the economics of scarcity.Dropping out of New York University at age 19, he set his sights onbecoming a commodities trader." The rest is about the history ofcontroversial deals with Libya's Muammar Ghaddafi, Iranian mullahs,Soviet Communists and a whole lot more.

Another look at Rich by the U.K-based OneWorld organizationchronicles Rich's schemes which weakened Nigeria's oil and embargo ofall business with then apartheid South Africa. He is identified asone of the "notorious sanctions busters." Among other deeds, OneWorldrecalled: For example, in the mid-1980's they copied lists of tankerswhich called at loading points and determined whether any of thevessels had called at South African ports in the previous year.Tankers so implicated in sanctions busting were not loaded with crudein Nigeria. The oil workers rejected out of hand the apartheidpropaganda that an oil embargo against the racist regime would hurtordinary South African citizens. They also cast unwanted light oncorrupt petroleum sales by Nigerian middlemen, where 'private' salesof state-owned crude put Nigerian oil in the hands of notorioussanctions busters such as Marc Rich."

In researching Mr. Rich's deals in Africa, I had access to thevaluable report made by Economists Allied for Arms Reduction (EAAR),complied during the Cameron Commission of Inquiry of 1994/95, titled"The Betrayal of the Struggle Against Apartheid." Again, Rich factorsinto the deals of the ruinous bank, the BCCI.

Before anyone underestimates the credibility and insight of theEAAR, let me cite the leadership of the group: the chairman isglobally-acclaimed economist James K. Galbraith  while thevice-Chairs are Jurgen Brauer, Michael Intriligator  and AnnMarkusen. Some of the trustees include Robert S. McNamara, formerlyof the World Bank and the U.S. State Department, Clinton's LaborSecretary Prof. Robert Reich and Harvard's international economicsscholar Prof. Jeffrey Sachs.

Although dated September 28, 2000, the EAAR report looks back andquoted from the executive summary of the United States Senateinvestigation into notorious BCCI Bank (it had branches in Nigeria,too), as follows:

"BCCI's unique criminal structure -- an elaborate corporatespider-web with BCCI's founder, Agha Hasan Abedi and his assistant,Swaleh Naqvi, in the middle -- was an essential component of itsspectacular growth and a guarantee of its eventual collapse. Thestructure was conceived by Abedi and managed by Naqvi for thespecific purpose of evading regulation or control bygovernments.  It functioned to frustrate the full understandingof BCCI's operations by anyone. BCCI's criminality included fraud byBCCI and BCCI customers involving billions of dollars; moneylaundering in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas; BCCI bribery ofofficials in most of those locations; support of terrorism, armstrafficking, and the sale of nuclear technologies; management ofprostitution; the commission and facilitation of income tax evasion,smuggling and illegal immigration, illicit purchases of banks andreal estate.  Unanswered questions include BCCI's financing ofcommodities and other business dealings of international criminalfinancier Marc Rich."

Recall that one of Obasanjo's efforts which gained him someregional stature during his first rulership of Nigeria was hisactions (initiated by his predecessor the late Gen. Murtala Muhammad)against aparthied South Africa and British Petroleum (which laterbecame AP). Such commendable efforts included the Muhammad-Obasanjosupport for southern Africa nationalists. Remarkably, Rich wasworking against their efforts.

I've also read the informative Platt's Oilgram (Volume 79Number 15, January 23, 2001) where it is reported: In 1973, with oiltrading profits soaring after the first Arab embargo, Rich leftPhibro to form his own firm, Marc Rich & Co, which soon became amajor player in world oil markets. He was particularly adept atsecuring supplies of Nigerian and Iraqi crudes, and gained areputation as a reliable supplier in tough times to crude-short oilmajors."

In the light of these developments (and one hopes that Nigeria'seconomic intelligence groups are aware of these facts prior to thelatest Rich scandal), the question which millions of concerned andinformed Nigerians will be asking, today and later, is not onlywhether the government of retired Gen. Obasanjo shouldimmediately seek financial remedy for unpaid millions in royaltiesand false declarations of quantities of crude lifted by Marc Rich& Co., but can the Obasanjo's presidency assert Nigeria'sfundamental economic interests on this issue without wavering. Theanswer, in my view, is blowing in the wind.

Why? The Obasanjo government is still predominated in major areasby most of Abacha's and Babangida's cronies and henchmen whobenefited, in part, from Rich's massive lucre and loot fromNigeria.

It will be a telling pointer to the collective failure ofNigeria's ruling groups, especially its soldier-politicians (ledcurrently by Chief Obasanjo, seen in picture to the right) if they donot ensure some forms of remedy through responsible agencies ofinternational law and economic recompense.

Some individuals might question why Nigeria should bother "afterall these years." Here's a simple answer, made more persuasive by themid-March 2001 announcement by the New York State Commissioner ofTaxation and Finance that the state has begun legal action seeking$137 million from financier Marc Rich for personal income taxes onhis earnings from fraudulent business activities during the early1980s. Yes, the early 1980s. Commissioner Arthur J. Roth is aninteresting and colorful writer, too. Here are his lucid words: Mr.Rich has avoided his tax payments in New York for nearly two decadeswhile he was under federal indictment. It is now time for him to paythe piper."

Again, can Obasanjo's government stand up to be counted? And,demand the Roth standard on Rich, specifically "It is now time forhim to pay the Nigerian piper!"

Although certain facts and realities regarding the funding of the1999 presidential elections makes one wonder if the Obasanjogovernment can, seriously, probe the other retired but activepolitical generals who bankrolled his election in 1999 withmultimillion dollars and the sacks of the Naira (Nigeria's localcurrency).

It is equally important to ask: should the Obasanjo "fight"against corrupt enrichment remain, largely, an inquiry into thestolen funds amassed by the infamous, late dictator Gen. Sani Abacha.Only a few days ago, this March 2001, the U.S. State Department andthe CatholicBishops in Nigeria criticized President Obasanjo on the issue ofcorruption.

Let me add that President Obasanjo should be commended forreclaiming some of the funds Abacha and his gang pillaged from ournational treasury. Yet fact is that song is getting very worn andhoarse for Nigerians.

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Regarding the Rich issue and his swift deals with and on Nigeria,the key question remains: Who will stand up for Nigeria's economicrights and the financial rights of Nigerians? When; and for how long?I recall vividly the day I moderated and co-hosted Chief Obasanjo'svisit to Houston shortly after his release in 1998, by former head ofstate retired Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (he handed over to Obasanjoin May 1999), he told us "I've seen many things in my life; both thehigh and low... and I intend to stand up for what I believe isright."

Without a doubt, Rich's various and convoluted dealings in the oiland gas and security sectors of Nigeria had too many shady contoursand less than honest elements. Hopefully, Nigeria's PresidentObasanjo believes it will be "right" for Nigeria to retrieve anddemand its funds, any funds that might have been acquiredthrough corrupt enrichment by either Nigeria's domestic charlatans orinternational flimflam dealers who ruin and despoliate the destiny ofour country, such as Mr. Rich.

To be sure, how those Marc Rich shenanigans in Nigeria are handledwill count either as one of the major marks of economic nationalismor monumental failures of the Obasanjo presidency. It is a definingmoment, personally and professionally, for President Obasanjo sincehe is also in charge of the Petroleum/Oil/Gas portfolios/ministriesof his boisterous country of 110 million people.

Now, Mr. President, who will protect Nigeria's interests and oilresources from this (Rich) cat with nine lives; excuse me....

Nwangwu,recipient of the Journalism Excellence Award (1997) and consultingparticipant at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), served as anadviser to the Mayor of Houston (Dr. Lee Brown) on internationalbusiness (Africa). He has appeared as a panelist at the BBC WorldTechnology Forum in San Francisco, and analyst on CNN, VOA WorldNettelevision and a number of other broadcast networks. He is theFounder & Publisher of the first African-owned, U.S-basedprofessional newspaper to be published on the internet,,Houston-based USAfrica The Newspaper, The Black Business Journal,BBJonline.comand CLASSmagazine. He writes commentaries on current U.S. and Africa issues inmajor newspapers and magazines in the two continents.

Published on March 18, 2001. International business,educational, policy and oil/gas sites may link to this specialreport.
Any permission for archiving of the essay on any other web site shallrequire the written permission of the author. E-mail to

STEALS AND DEALS:How Marc Rich made billions fromNigeria'sOil
WhyBush should focus on dangersfacing Nigeria's return todemocracyand Obasanjo's slipperyslide. ByChido Nwangwu
Marc Rich's path to fortune

By Michael Dobbs

Zug (Switzerland): For decades, traders from all over Europe haveflocked to this lakeside Alpine town, attracted by stringent privacylaws, low tax rates and guarantees of corporate anonymity. But no onehas achieved the dominance of Marc Rich, the billionaire metalsdealer and indicted tax fugitive pardoned by Bill Clinton in one ofthe last acts of his presidency.

At the age of 66, after a lifetime of deal-making andsanctions-breaking, Mr. Rich is the uncrowned king of Zug, a placethat boasts 10,000 international companies, or roughly onecorporation for every two residents. He is rarely seen but constantlytalked about, his exploits buying and selling the world's naturalresources becoming the stuff of legend - and scandal.

During the quarter-century that he has been operating from Zug,including 17 years hiding from U.S. marshals, Mr. Rich has masteredthe art of clinching a deal with everyone from Communist bureaucratsto Third World dictators to Iranian ayatollahs. Many of the businesspractices cited in his 1983 indictment for racketeering by theSouthern District of New York - trading with pariah states,manipulating the market for huge personal gain, hiding profits in athicket of offshore companies - are techniques that he perfected hereboth before and after he got into trouble in the United States.

The list of countries that Mr. Rich has traded with reads like acompendium of rogue states: Iran during the hostage crisis,apartheid-era South Africa, Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia, NorthKorea, Moammar Gadhafi's Libya, the Soviet Union under LeonidBrezhnev.

"He sees himself as a citizen of the world, unencumbered by thelaws of sovereign nations," said Howard Safir, a former U.S. marshal,who lay in wait outside Mr. Rich's Swiss residence in 1985 in one ofseveral futile attempts to enforce an arrest warrant against Mr. Richon charges of swindling U.S. taxpayers of nearly $50 million. "Hisview is that everything and everyone can be bought and sold, andgovernment is irrelevant."

In keeping with his usual practice, Mr. Rich declined to beinterviewed for this article. For the last few weeks, he has kept outof sight, holed up at his luxurious estate in the village of Meggen,with his collection of Van Goghs, Picassos and Miros, and abreathtaking view of the mountains rising above the shimmering watersof Lake Lucerne.

According to his supporters, Mr. Rich is waiting for thecontroversy generated by Mr. Clinton's pardon to blow over beforespeaking out.

"There is nothing mysterious about him," said Georg Stucky, aformer finance minister from the canton of Zug who now runs Mr.Rich's charitable foundation in Switzerland. "He is just a normalbusinessman who does not like publicity. He is a very shy person." InSwitzerland's wealthiest canton, in one of the world's wealthiestcountries, there is a saying that "money doesn't smell," according toJosef Lang, a local Green party leader who has waged a 20-yearcampaign to expose alleged wrongdoing by Mr. Rich and otherinternational traders, and their cozy links with local politicians.In Zug, Mr. Lang said in a tone of disgust, "You don't ask where themoney comes from, you just ask how much."

Mr. Rich was born Marc Reich on Dec. 18, 1934, in the Belgian cityof Antwerp, the only child of a prosperous Jewish family. When theNazis took over Belgium in 1942, the family fled to the UnitedStates, settling first in Kansas City, Missouri, and then in NewYork, where Mr. Rich's father, David, went into the burlap bagbusiness.

The Korean War created huge demand for burlap bags used forsandbags, pushing prices sky-high and turning David Rich into amillionaire. For Marc, it was an early lesson in the economics ofscarcity. Dropping out of New York University at age 19, he set hissights on becoming a commodities trader.

The company that Mr. Rich joined, Philipp Brothers, was thelargest raw materials trading company in the world. He started in themailroom but soon came to the attention of Ludwig Jesselson, alegendary trader skilled in the art of concluding long-term contractswith Third World countries. Cool, calculating and exceptionallyaggressive in his deal-making, Mr. Rich quickly became a Jesselsonfavorite. By the late 1960s, he was his heir apparent.

Then, in 1975, in an act of betrayal that is still the talk ofcommodities traders, Mr. Rich broke with his mentor in a dispute overbonuses. He and his partner, Pincus (Pinky) Green, quit PhilippBrothers, taking the company's most closely held secrets and ahalf-dozen of its leading traders with them. Marc Rich Co. set upshop in a glass tower in Zug, down the street from Philipp Brothers'European headquarters.

Mr. Rich and Mr. Green had established an "odd couple"relationship that has proved highly beneficial to both men. Elegantand debonair, Mr. Rich made his reputation as a deal-maker. Mr.Green, by contrast, is the shabbily dressed logistics wizard whoseskill at making the ships run on time earned him the nickname "theadmiral." The split with Philipp Brothers coincided with a seismicshift in the world's oil markets that Mr. Rich, perhaps more than anyother trader, was quick to exploit. In the early 1970s, oil-producingnations rebelled against the dominance of international oilcompanies. Instead of selling their oil to the majors, they beganmarketing it through independent traders like Mr. Rich, who iscredited with virtually inventing the spot market, where oil wasfreely traded to the highest bidder.

The oil crisis was a fabulous boon for Mr. Rich: As pricesspiraled, he was able to pocket the difference between the purchaseprice and the sale price. But it also proved his undoing. Whensuccessive U.S. administrations introduced a series of energy pricecontrols in the 1970s, he devised a scheme for making money out ofthe bureaucratic confusion. Prosecutors say the scheme wasillegal.

Under the Carter-era regulations, oil pumped under pre-1972production agreements, called "old oil," was sold for around $6 abarrel. "New oil," by contrast, went for up to $40 a barrel. If atrader could somehow relabel old oil as new oil, he could make afortune. Evidence collected by U.S. prosecutors shows that Mr. Richor his representatives did just that by funneling the oil through a"daisy chain," allegedly using sham invoices and Panamanian frontcompanies, with profits deposited in offshore accounts.

Morris Weinberg, the prosecutor in the case, estimates that Mr.Rich and Mr. Green concealed more than $100 million in ill-gottenprofits in 1980 and 1981. While the pair denied wrongdoing andrefused to produce documents relating to the case, they ended uppaying about $200 million in back taxes and penalties in a partialsettlement that allowed their companies to continue operating in theUnited States.

According to the September 1983 indictment, Mr. Rich and Mr. Greenwere also buying large amounts of Iranian oil at a time when Americandiplomats were being held hostage in Tehran and U.S. citizens wereprohibited from dealing with Iran. The indictment lists five suchtrades between July and September 1980 for more than 5 millionbarrels of oil valued at $186 million. In a rare 1992 interview withNBC, Mr. Rich acknowledged trading with Iran, "but as a Swisscompany," not an American one.

The government's charges were never tested in court. In the summerof 1983, at the height of the U.S. attorney's investigation, Mr. Richleft his $10 million apartment in New York and fled to Zug,renouncing his U.S. citizenship in favor of Spanish and Israelipassports. (The State Department still considers him a U.S. citizen,subject to U.S. tax law.)

Mr. Rich and Mr. Green remained on the Justice Department's "mostwanted" fugitive list until their pardon in January. Mr. Clinton saidhe granted the pardon because he agreed with the arguments of Mr.Rich's lawyers that the case should have been handled in civil courtrather than as a criminal case. Mr. Weinberg, now a defense attorneyin Florida, says the alleged daisy-chain caper was very typical ofthe way Mr. Rich did business. "There is a lawless quality about theway he operates," Mr. Weinberg said. "He will do whatever he needs todo to close a deal."

The daisy-chain oil deals set a precedent for dozens of similarplays, from South America to the Middle East to Asia: the greater thebureaucratic controls over the price of oil or raw materials, thegreater the potential profit.

"Whenever cracks appear in the market, there are people like MarcRich who are willing to go where nobody else will, either because ofembargoes, legal restrictions or political problems," said anexecutive for a leading oil company.

One specialty of Mr. Rich was breaking embargoes - trading withinternational pariahs was a sure way of generating extra profits. Thebest documented example is apartheid-era South Africa, which reliedon traders like Mr. Rich to get around a United Nations oil embargodesigned to deprive the country of the one raw material it did notpossess.

A leading anti-apartheid watchdog organization, theAmsterdam-based Shipping Research Bureau, recorded 149 deliveries ofoil to South Africa by companies linked to Mr. Rich between 1979 and1993. The group reported that Mr. Rich was the leading supplier ofoil to South Africa before the collapse of apartheid, responsible forat least 15 percent of identifiable deliveries. Some of the oil camefrom countries like the Soviet Union, which were leading opponents ofapartheid. Typically, Rich companies would file false shippingreports for the destination of the oil, and redirect tankers to SouthAfrican ports once they were safely at sea.

Spokesmen for Mr. Rich declined to comment on thesanctions-busting allegations. His supporters note that the UNembargo against South Africa was non-binding, as it was neverendorsed by the Security Council.

Another Rich technique was to control the supply of strategicmetals so the price would go up. At one point, in the early 1990s, hewas believed to control about 40 percent of the internationalaluminum market, an accomplishment that earned him the nickname"aluminum finger."

Not all of Mr. Rich's ventures have turned to gold. In the early1980s, according to press accounts, he made a disastrous foray intothe international tin market, buying up most of Malaysia's tinproduction. Prices skyrocketed, but landed with a thud after the U.S.government began selling tin from a federal stockpile. Mr. Rich wasreported to have lost more than $60 million.

The collapse of communism offered Mr. Rich new opportunities,opening up vast new markets and a host of business partners with fewscruples when it came to turning a profit. After the Soviet Unionfell apart in 1991, these relationships helped Mr. Rich become for atime the single most important Western trader in Russia.

Some analysts say they believe that, after a lifetime of chasingdeals, Mr. Rich may be slowing down. "Margins are much tighter nowthan they used to be," said Jonathan Bearman, editor of EnergyCompass, a leading oil industry newsletter.

Others see his successful campaign for a pardon as the crowningplay in a career packed with similar maneuvers. "This guy is thegreatest trader in the 20th century," said Mr. Weinberg, the formerprosecutor. "He orchestrated and manipulated the pardon, just like hedid all his other deals."

Copyright © 2001 Washington Post Service/InternationalHerald Tribune/Wednesday, March 14, 2001

Who's Marc Rich?

By Josh Gerstein

The pardon of Marc Rich, a billionaire oil trader who fled theUnited States in 1983 just before he was indicted for tax evasion andracketeering, has angered some in New York. New York City Mayor RudyGiuliani, who in his role as U.S. attorney helped bring the criminalcharges against Rich in the 1980s said today he was shocked thatClinton pardoned Rich. "He got on an airplane, took all his recordsand ran off to Switzerland, where he remained a fugitive since then,spending money buying the town," Giuliani said during a pressconference. "He has made untold efforts to try to get the chargesreduced including many overtures and entreaties based on the use ofinfluence."

Quinn told the White House that changes in the law since 1983 haveundercut the case against Rich. He also argued that it would be toughfor the billionaire to get a fair trial because of his long stayoverseas. Clinton has portrayed his pardons as acts of mercy forpeople unfairly entangled in the justice system. He briefly referredto Rich's case today by saying he has a "very compelling case for apardon."

Rich has citizenship in the United States, Spain and Israel. Hewas indicted in 1983 by a U.S. federal grand jury on more than 50counts of wire fraud, racketeering, trading with the enemy andevading more than $48 million in income taxes -crimes that could haveearned him more than 300 years in prison.

He allegedly made vast profits through a huge, illegal oil pricingscheme in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis and evaded taxes byshifting profits from his U.S. subsidiary to the parent company inlow-tax Switzerland. He also was accused of making deals with Iranduring the U.S. embassy hostage crisis in Tehran.  

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Pope John Paul, Abacha and Nigeria's Christians
Walter Carrington: An African-American diplomat puts principles above self for Nigeria. Founder Chido Nwangwu with the U.S. former Ambassador Carrington (right) at the U.S. embassy in Lagos during a courtesy visit.

Biafra-Nigeria war and history get fresh, critical look from a survivor. By Alverna Johnson and Vivian Okeke.

  'Biafra: History Without Mercy' - a preliminary note. By Chido Nwangwu
OJUKWU:"It was simply a choice between Biafra and enslavement! And, here's why we chose Biafra"
Biafra: From Boys to Men. By Dr. M.O. Ene

African Union: Old wine in new skin?
Sharia, Sex and hypocrisy of Gendered Justice. By Chika Unigwe, columnist for
And the Rocks Cried Out (For Safiyatu). By Effenus Henderson
NEWS INVESTIGATION: The Marc Rich Oil Deals in Nigeria

Should Africa debates begin and end at The New York Times and The Washington Post? No
AFRICA AND THE U.S. ELECTIONS Beyond U.S. electoral shenanigans, rewards and dynamics of a democratic republic hold lessons for African politics.
Osama bin-Laden's goons threaten Nigeria and Africa's stability
What has Africa to do with September 11 terror?
Africans reported dead in terrorist attack at WTC
September 11 terror and the ghost of things to come....
Arafat's duplicity, terrorism at the heart of Israeli-Palestinian crises. By Barry Rubin
Will religious conflicts be the time-bomb for Nigeria's latest transition to civilian rule?
Johnnie Cochran will soon learn that defending Abacha's loot is not as simple as his O.J Simpson's case. By Chido Nwangwu
Should Africa debates begin and end at The New York Times and The Washington Post? No
Nelson Mandela, Tribute to the world's political superstar and Lion of Africa 
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's burden mounts with murder charges, trials
Conflicting emotions, feeling of disappointment, timing of revelation that Rev. Jackson fathered a child with former aide lead to charges of "right-wing orchestration."

Nigeria's Presidential Election: Is it just for the Highest Bidder?

Nigeria at 40: punish financial thuggery, build domestic infrastructure
Is Obasanjo really up to Nigeria's challenge and crises? By contributing editor Ken Okorie. Commentary appears from

Africa suffers the scourge of the virus. This life and pain of Kgomotso Mahlangu, a five-month-old AIDS patient (left) in a hospital in the Kalafong township near Pretoria, South Africa, on October 26, 1999, brings a certain, frightening reality to the sweeping and devastating destruction of human beings who form the core of any definition of a country's future, its national security, actual and potential economic development and internal markets.
22 million Africans HIV-infected, ill with AIDS while African leaders ignore disaster-in-waiting

Wong is wrong on Blacks in Houston city jobs
Why is 4-year old Onyedika carrying a placard against killings in Nigeria?
How Nigeria's Islamic Sharia crises will affect the U.S.
USAfrica INTERVIEW "Why African Catholics are concerned about crises, sex abuse issues in our church" - a frank chat with ICCO's Mike Umeorah
Johnnie Cochran will soon learn that defending Abacha's loot is not as simple as his O.J Simpson's case. By Chido Nwangwu The Economics of Elections in Nigeria
HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY How far, how deep will Nigeria's human rights commission go?
Rtd. Gen. Babangida trip as emissary for Nigeria's Obasanjo to Sudan raises curiosity, questions about what next in power play?
COUNTERPOINT 'Why is Bill Maher spreading racist nonsense about HIV/AIDS and Africa on ABC?
Hate groups' spin by Lamar Alexander benefits anti-Blacks, anti-Semites, and racists
Annan, power and burden of the U.N
The Civilianizing of African soldiers into Presidents
At 39, Nigerians still face dishonest stereotypes such as Buckley's, and other self-inflicted wounds.
JFK Jr.: Death of a Good Son
'Why is Bill Maher spreading racist nonsense about HIV/AIDS and Africa on ABC?
Summit on Africa, Congresswoman Jackson-Lee hold policy forum in Houston
'100 Black Men are solutions-oriented' says Thomas Dortch, Jr., Richard Johnson and Nick Clayton II as they share perspectives with USAfrica's founder on the national
Community Service Awards bring African-American, American
policy and business leaders together with African community at Texas Southern University
110 minutes with Hakeem Olajuwon
Cheryl Mills' first class defense of Clinton and her detractors' game 
Nigeria, Cry My Beloved Country

BULLET Versus BALLOT The bloody stain of military coup, on Friday December 24, 1999, sullied the once unique history of democratic rule in the beautiful and historically democratic, French-speaking west African country of Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) by General Robert Guei (inset). USAfricaonline report and commentary.
COMMUNITY INTEREST Why the revisionist forces of racist oppression in South Africa should not be allowed to intimidate Ron and Charlayne Gault.

Index of Founder's Notes (1)

Index of Founder's Notes (2)

Index of other Viewpoints USAfricaonline contributors and columnists on the issues

Will the rash of Ethnic Violence disrupt Nigeria's effort at Democracy?
Nigerian stabbed to death in his bathroom in Houston.
EndGame in Kinshasa: U.S must boot Mobutu for own interest, future of Zaire and Africa
Seriously, is your web site a Turkey, too? Get Solutions
PetroGasWorks Shell picks Leslie Mays as VP Global Diversity
Why Powell's mission to the Middle East failed. By Jonathan Elendu
General Tunde Idiagbon:  A nationalist, an iron-surgeon departs
Abiola's sudden death and the ghost of things to come  
Gen. Shehu Musa Yar'Adua's prison death, Nigeria and The Ghost of Things to come ..... INSIGHT:
Obasanjo's self-succession charade at his Ota Farm has turned Nigeria to an 'Animal Farm.' By Prof. Mobolaji Aluko

Is Obasanjo ordained by God to rule Nigeria? And, other fallacies. By Prof. Sola Adeyeye
Obasanjo was not sworn in merely to
"mean well" for Nigeria. By Obi Nwakanma

Obasanjo's 'prayers' and the Abacha path of staying in power. By Nkem Ekeopara
Creative writing, publishing and the future of
Nigerian Literature. By Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike
A young father writes his One year old son: "If only my heart had a voice...."
Nigeria, a terrible beauty. By Chido Nwangwu
Why Nigeria and Africa's leaders are leading us to nowhere. By Professor Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, contributing editor of, author of the highly-acclaimed African Literature in Defence of History: An Essay on Chinua Achebe and a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics.

Abati's Revisionisms and Distortions of history. By Obi Nwakanma, USAfrica The Newspaper contributing editor and award-winning poet
Reuben Abati's fallacies on Nigeria's history and secession. By Bayo Arowolaju
How Abati, Adelaja and others fuel the campaign of hatred against Ndigbo. By Jonas Okwara
"Obasanjo, secession and the
secessionists": A response to Reuben Abati's Igbophobia. By Josh Arinze, contributing editor.
Abati and other
anti-Igbo bigots in Nigeria. By Chuks Iloegbunam, contributing editor and author of Ironsi

CNN International debate on Nigeria's democracy was livecast on February 19, 2002. It involved Nigeria's Information Minister Prof. Jerry Gana, Prof. Salih Booker and Publisher Chido Nwangwu. Transcripts are available on the CNN International site.

Anambra's rigged 2003 elections: Chris Uba's confession at WIC 2004 in Newark, USA. In a matter-of-fact manner, PDP's chieftain in Anambra Chris Uba stood up and astonished all that were present in Newark when he said, "We, the PDP, did not win the election (of 2003). I have gone to church to confess. The election had no document. I called the result before 12 midnight. I gave INEC the money and asked them to call the result." The revelation caused an uproar as well as some applause in the hall. "The person we took his thing is here," Uba said, pointing at Peter Obi (the APGA candidate) who was sitting among the audience, in the back row.

USAfrica The Newspaper voted the "Best Community Newspaper" in the 4th largest city in the U.S., Houston. It is in the Best of Houston special as chosen by the editors and readers of the Houston Press, reflecting their poll and annual rankings.
DEMOCRACY WATCH: Obasanjo raped Nigeria's constitution by suspending Plateau Assembly and Governor. Prof. By Prof. Ben Nwabueze, leading constitutional scholar in the Commonwealth for almost 45 years, former Nigerian federal minister and SAN.
OIL in NIGERIA: Liquid Gold or Petro-Dollars Curse?
Investigating Marc Rich and his deals with Nigeria's Oil
Through an elaborate network of carrots and sticks and a willing army of Nigeria's soldiers and some civilians, controversial global dealer and billionaire Marc Rich, literally and practically, made deals and steals; yes, laughed his way to the banks from crude oil contracts, unpaid millions in oil royalties and false declarations of quantities of crude lifted and exported from Nigeria for almost 25 years. Worse, he lifted Nigeria's oil and shipped same to then embargoed apartheid regime in South Africa. Read Chido Nwangwu's NEWS INVESTIGATION REPORT for
Should Africa debates begin and end at The New York Times and The Washington Post?
Nelson Mandela, Tribute to the world's political superstar and Lion of Africa  
Nnamdi Azikiwe: Statesman, Intellectual and Titan of African politics


Bush's position on Africa is "ill-advised." The position stated by Republican presidential aspirant and Governor of Texas, George Bush where he said that "Africa will not be an area of priority" in his presidency has been questioned by Publisher Chido Nwangwu. He added that Bush's "pre-election position was neither validated by the economic exchanges nor geo-strategic interests of our two continents." These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.' Nwangwu, adviser to the Mayor of Houston (the 4th largest city in the U.S., and immigrant home to thousands of Africans) argued further that "the issues of the heritage interests of 35 million African-Americans in Africa, the volume and value of oil business between between the U.S and Nigeria and the horrendous AIDS crisis in Africa do not lend any basis for Governor Bush's ill-advised position which removes Africa from fair consideration" were he to be elected president. By Al Johnson
The Life and Irreverent times of Afrobeat superstar, FELA



Tanzania's founding president Julius Nyerere    


Impeachment process shows Nigerian democracy "is alive... being tested." Nigeria's president retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo has said that the impeachment process shows that "democracy is alive, is being tested, and being tried.... What they (the legislators) have tried to do in the democratic way, which is not easy, would probably have been done by taking arms or by -- with bullets. So, but with democracy, of course, some people feel that this is the way this should be, and then I have an opportunity to defend myself. There is discussion. There is dialogue. There is a decision. There is fairness." He made these comments when he appeared on Tuesday September 17, 2002 on CNN International to discuss the issues of impeachment facing him, the allegations of corruption, abuse of the constitution and deployment of soldiers ina civilian environment which led to the "massacre of civilians" in Odi (Bayelsa) and Zaki Biam (Benue). On the charges by international human rights organizations and Nigerian media that his government has been involved in actions which have led to the deaths of thousands of Nigerians, the retired General gave a surprising answer. He was asked that "as many as 10,000 people, it's being reported, have been killed in Nigeria (in) communal rivalries, and the number is believed to be increasing. And people are saying that although President Obasanjo has done a lot of good for Nigeria, you're accused of not -- accused of failing to halt that spiraling violence."

Obasanjo: "Let me say this to you, when you put the question of 10,000 -- 10,000 people dying in Nigeria, of course, for a population of over 120 million people...." But Founder and recipient of the Journalism Excellence award (1997), Chido Nwangwu, who appeared on the same program as as a CNN International analyst (Africa) pointed out that "when (President Obasanjo) answered that in a country of 100 million that 10,000 people are said to have died, as if that was a small number, that in itself reflects a disconnect with the concerns of Nigerians. The second one is that when the risk is civil disagreement, the police are required to intervene in the country. And the deployment of the armed forces of Nigeria requires at least some consultation, however modest, with the parliament." Nwangwu, former member of the editorial board of Nigeria's Daily Times continued that "the third factor that is equally important to underscore is that the armed forces of Nigeria moved in for a punitive action rather than just containing a civil disagreement." He noted in backgrounder "it was revealing and interesting interesting discussing Nigeria's issues with its leader - under the current circumstances of an increasingly out-of-schedule elections and the gathering storm of an impeachment process by a majority of the members of the National Assembly, predominantly by Obasanjo's party members." See rush transcript of the CNN International news program.

Obasanjo facing corruption and ineptitude impeachment charges, again since the parliament, a few weeks ago, passed a motion carrying a majority of the members of Obasanjo's party, the PDP.
RELIGION AND ETHNIC CONFLICT: Sharia-related killings and carnage in Kaduna reenact deadly prologue to Nigeria-Biafra war of 1967. By Chido Nwangwu
Gigolos on the Campaign Trail. By Prof. Walt Brasch
Can Africa live a future without war? An Open Letter to Mandela. By Fubara David-West
Sex, Women and (Hu)Woman Rights. By Chika Unigwe
WILL ARINZE BE THE FIRST POPE of RECENT AFRICAN ORIGIN? To our Brother Cardinal Arinze: May your pastoral lineage endure!

The Democratic Party stood for nothing in 2002 election cycle. By Jonathan Elendu

EVA champions efforts to combat AIDS among Nigerian youth. By Jessica Rubin
Pros and cons of the
circumcision debate. By Ngozi Ezeji, RN
Prof. Chimere Ikoku: Remembering the legacy of a pan-Africanist, scientist and gentleman. By Prof. Chudi Uwazurike
Can Africa live a future without war? An Open Letter to Mandela. By Fubara David-West, contributing editor
Tiger Woods is no Nelson Mandela! By Chido Nwangwu
SPORTS: Tiger Woods makes more history with another golf Masters win. He shot 12-under-par 276 and a final round 71 at Georgia's Augusta National Golf Club event and collected $1,008,000, on Sunday April 14, 2002. With it, the world's golf phenom added another green jacket to his array of championships and titles, placing him, in this instance, in the same respected Masters' league as Nicklaus (winner 1965 and 1966) and Nick Faldo (1989 and 1990). The three are the only men to win back-to-back Masters. At 26, Woods has since become the youngest golfer to win his seventh professional major championship. He was joined by his parents and his 22 year-old Swedish model girlfriend, Elin Nordegren.
It's wrong to stereotype Nigerians as Drug Dealers. By Chido Nwangwu
Nigeria as a Nation of Vulcanizers
Why Colin
Powell brings gravitas, credibility and star power to Bush presidency.
Private initiative, free market forces, and more democratization are keys to prosperity in Africa.
Civilianizing of African soldiers into Presidents
Maduekwe, Nwachukwu clash over Obasanjo at World Igbo 2002 convention in Houston. USAfrica Special report

CNN International debate on Nigeria's democracy livecast on February 19, 2002. It involved Nigeria's Information Minister Prof. Jerry Gana, Prof. Salih Booker and Publisher Chido Nwangwu. Transcripts are available on the CNN International site.

Steve Jobs and Apple represent the future of digital living. By Chido Nwangwu
The coup in Cote d'Ivoire and its implications for democracy in Africa. By Chido Nwangwu
(Related commentary) Coup in Cote d'Ivoire has been in the waiting. By Tom Kamara