Denise Rich Gave $450,000 to Clinton Library

ByABC News
February 9, 2001, 1:19 PM

Feb. 9 -- The ex-wife of fugitive commodities giant Marc Rich donated $450,000 to the Clinton presidential library before then-President Clinton pardoned the billionaire last month, ABCNEWS has learned.

Democratic sources say the donations were made in three installments, the first in July of 1998, the second in August 1999, and the final one last May. The sources did not know of any further commitment by Denise Rich for future library contributions.

Ms. Rich, a prominent supporter of the Democratic Party, had been at the forefront of a coordinated effort to convince Clinton to pardon her former husband, who had been wanted by a handful of federal law enforcement agencies after being indicted in 1983 on 51 counts of tax fraud, mail fraud, racketeering and illegally trading with Iran during the U.S. trade embargo.

Details of that effort, including word of the donations, were described during a Thursday hearing of the House Committee on Government Reform, which has been examining circumstances surrounding the pardon, one of several granted on Clinton's final day inoffice.

Ms. Rich, however, declined to provide details about the contribution, citing her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The Clinton library so far has also refused to discuss the donations.

The final installment came before any publicly known conversation regarding a pardon for Marc Rich. At the time, his lawyers were still trying to reach some sort of deal with federal prosecutors in New York.

A committee spokesman said that if the final payment was made last May, "the timing would weaken the argument."

Pleaded the Fifth

In response to written questions from the committee this week, an attorney for Denise Rich indicated she had given an "enormous sum of money" to Clinton's Little Rock, Ark., library, committee chairman Dan Burton, R-Ind., said at the hearing.

But Ms. Rich's attorney, Carol Bruce, also announced in a letter Thursday that her client would be invoking the Fifth Amendment.. Two days earlier, the committee had submitted to Ms. Rich a list of 14 written questions. Among the questions were how much moneyshe had pledged to the Clinton library, with whom and when she had discussed possible pardon, and whether she was everprovided money or promised reimbursement by another individual to makeher political donations.