Rich Keeps Offices All Over U.S.

The company continues to operate today. Novarco Ltd. — which has been registered since 1996 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture — handles the export of commodities like aluminum and oil, among other things, to nations around the world. The company's international headquarters is listed as Zug, Switzerland, Rich's home since he fled the United States in 1983.

Novarco also has offices in New York, Connecticut, Texas, Kentucky, the District of Columbia, Missouri, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania. United Corporate Services of White Plains, N.Y., handled Novarco's incorporation and acts as their caretaker for legal matters in various cities.

The U.S. executives named in Novarco's incorporation papers include W. David Long, Mike Hopkovitz, Mary Ellen Yacura and Clyde Meltzer. The latter is the same Rich lieutenant who was indicted in 1983 along with Rich for participating in illegal oil sales and creating "daisy chains" — endless corporate shells which kept changing names in order to conduct illegal commodity trading and sales of oil and metal.

Meltzer was eventually given a three-year suspended sentence, placed on a five-year probation and given community service, according to the book Metal Men: Marc Rich and the 10 Billion Dollar Scam, by A. Craig Copetas.

Hopkovitz — when contacted at his Staten Island, N.Y., home to discuss Novarco's U.S. operations — said: "No comment, no comment, no comment. I have to hang up on you."

Meltzer and Yacura, who live respectively in New Jersey and Connecticut, did not return calls. Long is listed at a separate address about a mile from Novarco, also in an anonymous industrial park.

Novarco's U.S. headquarters are in White Plains, N.Y., on the fifth floor of an impressive modern building high on a hill. On Monday, three women who work for Novarco refused to comment on the Rich pardon or the company's business.

One woman said, "Call the lawyers if you have questions."

"Marc Rich's lawyers?" she was asked. "Yes," she replied.

Novarco is not Rich's first U.S. company to flourish since he renounced his citizenship and fled the country in 1982. For many years in the 1980s he operated under the guise of Clarendon Ltd., which dealt mostly in aluminum trading and oil refining.

Clarendon was placed on the Defense Logistics Agency's debarment list for three years from 1984-87, after Rich began his exile.

Clarendon, however, was removed from the debarment list in January 1988 and six months later it submitted a low bid on solicitation by the U.S. Mint. Clarendon subsequently won 19 other contracts for copper, zinc and nickel.

During 1988-92, Clarendon made $45 million from doing business with the U.S. government by selling copper, zinc, and nickel to the U.S. Mint for making nickels. That was until then-Rep. Bob Wise, D-W.Va. — now governor of West Virginia — got wise and helped put a stop to the practice.

Rich was subsequently listed on the General Service Administration's procurement black list.

Beginning in November 1990 — seven years into Rich's fugitive status — Clarendon was involved in a high-profile labor dispute at the Ravenswood Aluminum plant in West Virginia. A total of 1,700 steelworkers were locked out of their jobs in a nasty long-running fight in which it was proven Rich had bought Ravenswood from Kaiser Aluminum in 1989 under the Clarendon name.

Rich also operated an international company called Richco Grain, which was caught exporting American grain in the early 1990s by the Department of Agriculture. Rich surreptitiously received $65 million in subsidies from the department's Export Enhancement Program. This prompted then-Rep. Dan Glickman, D-Kan., subcommittee chairman (and Agriculture Department chairman under Bill Clinton) to say during congressional hearings, "You have yet to tell us how the largest tax evader in the history of the United States of America, one of them, was able to participate in the EEP."

Richco Grain was suspended from doing business by the U.S. government. But in 1997, Rich tried to make a comeback in commodities. He purchased a small existing company and renamed it Novarco Agriculture. After two years, the firm shut its doors. But its goal, according to one former staffer, "was the procurement of U.S. grain for international sales." This, despite the Richco suspension some years earlier.

"It was an open secret," said a former Novarco Agriculture staffer. "We were told to be up front about who we were." The company did business with 30 or so grain wholesalers.

No one declined the opportunity to work with Marc Rich. "Some had simply forgotten the whole thing by then," the source said.

There was secrecy, though, so much of it that the Washington office of Novarco AG had almost nothing to do with the White Plains office of Novarco Ltd. "They were involved in other kinds of business," explained the source. "So why should they know each other?"

Adding Novarco to his American plan was typical of Marc Rich, who had begun changing the names of his companies again. Clarendon Ltd. was dropped for Glencore Ltd. in the early 90s. In 1994, after a series of public mishaps left him more visible than he liked, Rich sold off Glencore Ltd. (previously knows as Clarendon Ltd.) to longtime associate Willy Strothotte, and swore he was shutting down his operations.

Glencore continues to flourish under Strothotte from its Pennsylvania hub, doing much the same business as it did under Rich, with many former Rich employees.

But by 1994, he started Marc Rich AG in Europe, as well as Novarco. Rich became well known for inventing new companies with new names, then pulling the plug on those companies and starting new ones that are essentially the same as the old ones. He is currently rumored to be thinking of selling Marc Rich AG to a Russian company called Crown that, like some of his other companies, operates out of Zug.

In addition to his massive and Byzantine dealings in the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia, Rich has kept his hand in the American oil business. He owned at least one Texas oil company called Channel Refining, which bought up refineries from Charter Oil in the early 1990s and then strangely vanished. Rich had also been in business with former 20th Century Fox owner and international oil billionaire Marvin Davis.

Marc Rich's worldwide interests in oil, gas, metals, and grain are extensive — and complicated as well. For example, Syria — a country that would be thought of as an enemy of Rich's beloved Israel — lists Marc Rich AG as one of the companies with which it has term contracts to process, refine and sell its oil. His peers include such multinational conglomerates as Chevron, Conoco, Shell, and Total.