A Fugitive's Secret Talks With the Feds
Marc Rich's elaborate attempts to cut a deal
Obermaier balked at any deal that didn't include jail time, yet he didn't shut the door completely. He told Rich's attorneys that "bringing Billman in would be a plus, but he didn't want them to think it would be a big plus," according to this prosecutorial source. Investigators at the U.S. Marshals Service, charged with catching Rich, were outraged at the Rich offer. Says one former investigator, "Rich's lawyers were offering to trade a queen for a pawn." Billman was captured by the marshals in 1993--without Rich's help, officials insist. He is serving a 30-year sentence.
The Billman case wasn't the only time the United States dealt with Rich while he was in exile in Switzerland. In 1989, Rich contributed $400,000 to a legal settlement paid to victims of the Ras Burqa incident, a 1985 shooting of Israeli tourists by an Egyptian policeman. The State Department got involved in the matter since one of the victims, 6-year-old Tali Griffel, was a U.S. citizen. Griffel's lawyer, Leonard Garment, who was also representing Rich, arranged for him to donate some of his fortune to supplement the settlement offered by the Egyptian government. Despite internal debate within the State Department about whether to accept money from the fugitive, officials decided to go ahead. According to Abe Sofaer, then a State Department legal adviser, "We saw no impropriety to having Marc Rich contribute to the settlement."
With Gary Cohen