When Barack Obama comes to Chicago this week to raise funds for U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, maybe he'll be in the mood to answer a few long unanswered questions about his ties to Tony Rezko and his real estate business partner Nadhmi Auchi. It will be fitting, considering a Sun-Times story revealing Obama's favorite U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias' family bank loaned $22.75 million in February 2006 to a development company owned by already then-suspected felon Tony Rezko and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's arms dealer, billionaire Nadhmi Auchi. Sun-Times reports
On Feb. 14, 2006, newly obtained records show, the bank made a $22.75 million loan to a company called Riverside District Development LLC, whose owners, it turns out, included Rezko.
You won't find Rezko's name on any documents filed in the public record in connection with the loan.
But Rezko acknowledged his ownership stake in Riverside District Development to a federal judge about a year after the loan was made, according to a transcript of the court hearing.
Broadway Bank, owned by the Giannoulias family, was already having trouble getting money from Rezko for another real estate loan, but that didn't stop them from loaning him more. Records show one loan was paid, but the second appears outstanding and on the books when the feds shut down Broadway in April 2010.
The Riverside District Development was partially owned by Rezko and the controversial billionaire Nadhmi Auchi, about whom RealClearPolitics.com's Jack Kelly wrote two years ago:
A British citizen of Iraqi descent, Mr. Auchi, 70, is a billionaire, the 279th richest man in the world, according to a Forbes magazine survey last year.
A great deal of Mr. Auchi's money was made doing business with the regime of Saddam Hussein, much of it under the table. In 1987, Mr. Auchi helped French and Italian firms win a huge oil pipeline contract in Iraq, chiefly by paying off Iraqi officials, according to testimony given by an Italian banker to prosecutors in Milan. In 2003, he was convicted for his role in what was then the largest scandal in French history, involving payoffs from executives of the oil company now known as Total to political figures in Spain, Germany and Africa.
According to convicted felon Stuart Levine's testimony in Tony Rezko's trial, Barack Obama met Nahdmi Auchi at Rezko's home in April 2004, two years before Giannoulias' Broadway Bank loaned funds to Rezko and Auchi's development company.
The Sun-Times story focuses on Giannoulias' connection, but it may be embarrassing for Obama when he comes to town to raise funds for his friend Alexi this week. That's if the White House press asks him the questions they should ask.