There is more bad news for Barack Obama’s endorsed candidate for U.S. Senate in Illinois, Alexi Giannoulias: the failed bank where he worked as an executive loaned millions of dollars to an Iraqi arms dealer and convicted felon Tony Rezko. Broadway Bank, which Giannoulias’ family started, approved a $22.75 million loan to Riverside District Development LLC. The principals of that noble-sounding institution are Tony Rezko – who famously sold the president a plot of land adjacent to the Obamas’ Chicago home – and Nahdmi Auchi. In December 1980, Auchi, a native Iraqi, brokered an arms deal between the Italian government and Saddam Hussein that netted the Iraqi Navy four frigates.
Just last week, Barack Obama personally held a fundraiser for Giannoulias, vouching for the young man’s integrity:
Alexi is my friend. I know his character. I know how much he loves this country. I know how committed he is to public service for all the right reasons…
You can trust him. You can count on him.
Obama has heavily invested in electing Giannoulias to the Senate seat that he vacated, which is at the heart of the Rod Blogojevich scandal. Joe Biden, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, David Axelrod, and Desiree Rogers have all stumped for Alexi (and, of course, Obama is a frenetic fundraiser).
His reassurances of Giannoulias’ goodwill ring hollow upon examining the record. In the 1990s, Auchi was a shareholder in what became the BNP Paribas bank. Saddam Hussein used that bank to funnel money from the Oil-for-Food scam.
Auchi’s wife, Ibtisam, served as a director of the Panamanian-based Fintrade Services, which ”lent money to (an) Obama fundraiser in May 2005.” A French court convicted Nahdmi of “the biggest fraud inquiry since the Second World War” in 2003, and he has been barred from entering the United States.
…But not from Broadway Bank. A campaign aide claims Alexi was on a leave of absence when the loan was approved in March 2006. However, the same month he told the press, “I’m senior loan officer and vice president, so I oversee a $600 million loan department.” The aide now claims he misspoke.
What no one disputes is that Alexi gave thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Obama, and as a bank executive, loaned $27 million to mobsters Michael “Jaws” Giorango and Demitri Stavropoulos. The government shut down Broadway Bank in April, which will cost taxpayers $390 million.
Giannoulias dismisses his Auchi ties as “a Washington, D.C., guilt by association game” – charging Republican Mark Kirk of associating Giannoulias with his own bank.
Watch Obama’s warm endorsement speech: