Tel Aviv University plans to grant an honorary doctorate this month to financier Marc Rich, who received a last-minute presidential pardon from Bill Clinton in 2001 after fleeing the United States for Switzerland during his prosecution on charges of evading more than $48 million in taxes and 51 counts of tax fraud. The 1983 indictment also charged Rich with conducting illegal oil deals with Iran during the 1979-1980 hostage crisis.
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None of that is mentioned by Tel Aviv University, which highlights Rich's philanthropic activities.
Rich, who is also an Israeli citizen, runs a foundation through which he has donated an estimated $100 million to Israeli educational and cultural institutions, including the university. The Tel Aviv Museum of Art has a wing named after him, and he has also donated to the Israel Museum, the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
"Marc Rich will receive an honorary doctorate in recognition of his accomplishments as an outstanding pioneer in the international business world; his extensive philanthropic activities through the Marc Rich Foundation in education, culture, the arts, social welfare and healthcare in Israel and around the world ... his efforts to promote interfaith and intercultural dialogue and understanding between peoples; and in special recognition of his life's work on behalf of the Jewish people and Israel," a Tel Aviv University spokesperson said.
The Rich pardon sparked an investigation into political donations by Rich's ex-wife, Denise, but investigators did not find enough evidence to indict Clinton.
Under questioning, Clinton said he had been asked to pardon Rich by then-prime minister Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, whose Jerusalem mayoral campaign was partially funded by Rich.