On December 18 in the year 1934, the man considered as the inventor of spot oil trading was born in Antwerp, Belgium. His name was Mark Rich, the founder of Marc Rich + Co AG which became Glencore, the world’s largest trading company.
Born Marcell David Reich, Mark was the son of a Jewish millionaire who immigrated to the US in 1941. His parents opened a jewelry store in Kansas and later shifted to trading of agricultural products and banking. Mark enrolled at the New York University but dropped out after only one semester. He then went to work as an oil trader at Philipp Brothers where he met his future right hand man Pincus Green. At that time, Philipp Brothers was the world’s largest commodities trader.
In 1974, Mark Rich left Philipp Brothers after being reportedly denied of a $1 million bonus. He organized Marc Rich & Co. AG and used his extensive connections with dictators and other leaders of third world countries to secure advanced contracts on commodities especially oil at very low prices. Eventually, he became one of the largest suppliers of oil, metals, minerals, grains and sugar.
In 1983, Mark Rich was indicted for racketeering and tax evasion, the biggest up to that time. He was also charged for doing business with Iran in violation of sanctions imposed on that country. He fled to Switzerland and lived there until his death. In a highly controversial move, he was pardoned by former President Bill Clinton several days before the inauguration of his successor in 1998.
When Marc Rich & Co incurred heavy losses in the early 1990s, Mark was forced to sell his 51% share to a management group which renamed it Glencore International. Later, Glencore merged with mining company Xstrata to become Glencore Xstrata.
Mark Rich died of a stroke in 2013 at the age of 78. Marrying twice, he begot three children. At the time of his death, Fortune Magazine placed his net worth at $2.5 billion. In 2019, Glencore had revenues of $219 billion ranking number 17 in Fortune Global 500.