For all the commentary on the case of fugitive director Roman Polanski, not much has been said about the parallels between the Polanski case and that of Marc Rich and his partner Pincus Green. Richard Cohen, writing on the Washington Post Web site, says:
I would bet that included in those now protesting on behalf of Polanski are many who went bonkers when President Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, the fugitive commodities trader who was indicted while overseas and has taken his time -- 26 years -- in coming home. The pardon created such a ruckus that Rich apparently has yet to claim it. As with Polanski, he maintains a home in Switzerland. (It is total mystery to me why the Swiss could pick up Polanski for possible extradition to the U.S., but not -- until the pardon -- Rich.)
One important difference is that Polanski pleaded guilty and then fled, while Rich and Green moved to Switzerland before they were indicted. Another is that Rich and Green were pardoned by President Clinton, while Polanski has not been pardoned. Rich and Green themselves never pleaded guilty and in fact have denied wrongdoing, though, according to a summary of the case on a Web site maintained by Rich, two companies associated with him did plead guilty "in order to survive." In contrast to Polanski's legions of Hollywood defenders, who the Wall Street Journal says include Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, and Mike Nichols, the supporters of Rich and Green are a smaller and less outspoken band, including my former partner in the New York Sun, Seth Lipsky, who wrote about the case for the New York Times last year. Another distinction is that there's wide public support for the laws against child rape that ensnared Polanski, while the oil price control laws that ensnared Rich and Green have been discarded, as has the use of The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act in tax cases. What's interesting for the purposes of this Web site is whether, particularly now, with the Gary Gensler-led Commodity Futures Trading Commission considering limits on the positions of "speculators," to be a fugitive commodities trader, even a pardoned one, is necessarily to be less popular than a fugitive "artist." It just may tell us something about how popular culture and the press in America view commodities traders versus how they view film directors.