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REQUIEM

Below are the two final essays to be posted on Allegiance and Duty Betrayed. The first one is written by a friend -- screen name 'Euro-American Scum' -- who, over the past four years, has been the most faithful essayist here. He has written about everything from his pilgrimage to Normandy in 2004 to take part in the 60th–year commemoration of the invasion, to his memories of his tour in Vietnam. His dedication to America’s founding principles ... and those who have sacrificed to preserve them over the past 200+ years ... is unequaled. Thank you, E-A-S. It has been a privilege to include your writing here, and it is a privilege to call you my friend.

The second essay is my own farewell. And with it I thank all of the many regular visitors, and those who may have only dropped in occasionally, for coming here. I hope you learned something. I hope a seed or two was planted. But, even if not, I thank you for stopping by ... 25 March, 2010

2/25/2008

Barack Obama Embarrassed by
Billionaire Link to Home Deal

Obama.jpg

by James Bone in New York and Dominic Kennedy in London
(from TimesOnline.com)

Barack Obama now admits his involvement in this land deal was a ‘boneheaded mistake’.

A British-Iraqi billionaire lent millions of dollars to Barack Obama's fundraiser just weeks before an imprudent land deal that has returned to haunt the presidential contender, an investigation by The Times discloses.

The money transfer raises the question of whether funds from Nadhmi Auchi, one of Britain’s wealthiest men, helped Mr Obama buy his mock Georgian mansion in Chicago.

A company related to Mr Auchi, who has a conviction for corruption in France, registered the loan to Mr Obama's bagman Antoin "Tony" Rezko on May 23 2005. Mr Auchi says the loan, through the Panamanian company Fintrade Services SA, was for $3.5 million.

Three weeks later, Mr Obama bought a house on the city's South Side while Mr Rezko's wife bought the garden plot next door from the same seller on the same day, June 15.

Mr Obama says he never used Mrs Rezko's still-empty lot, which could only be accessed through his property. But he admits he paid his gardener to mow the lawn.

Mrs Rezko, whose husband was widely known to be under investigation at the time, went on to sell a 10-foot strip of her property to Mr Obama seven months later so he could enjoy a bigger garden.

Mr Obama now admits his involvement in this land deal was a “boneheaded mistake”.

Mrs Rezko’s purchase and sale of the land to Mr Obama raises many unanswered questions.

It is unclear how Mrs Rezko could have afforded the downpayment of $125,000 and a $500,000 mortgage for the original $625,000 purchase of the garden plot at 5050 South Greenwood Ave.

In a sworn statement a year later, Mrs Rezko said she got by on a salary of $37,000 and had $35,000 assets. Mr Rezko told a court he had "no income, negative cash flow, no liquid assets, no unencumbered assets [and] is significantly in arrears on many of his obligations."

Mrs Rezko, whose husband goes on trial on unrelated corruption charges in Chicago on March 3, refused to answer questions about the case when she spoke by telephone to The Times.

Asked if she used money from her husband to buy the land next to Mr Obama's house, she said: "I can't answer these questions, I'm sorry."

Asked how long she and her husband had known Mr Auchi, she replied: "I will not be able to answer this question."

Mr Auchi's lawyer, asked whether the Fintrade Services loan was used to buy the land which became Mr Obama's garden, stated: "No, not as far as my client is aware."

Mr Auchi's links with Mr Rezko are a new political headache for Mr Obama, the charismatic Illinois senator vying to become America’s first African-American president.

Hillary Clinton has sought to make Mr Rezko, who has bankrolled Mr Obama's political career since his first run for the Illinois state senate in the mid-1990s, into an election issue by calling him a "slum landlord" in a televised debate. She has repeatedly suggested that Mr Obama has effectively not been "vetted" by media scrutiny and will not withstand "the Republican attack machine".

Bill Burton, a spokesman for Mr Obama, told The Times: “The bottom line is Obama does not recall ever meeting him [Mr Auchi].”

The house-and-garden deal raised questions about whether Mr Rezko, a property developer and fast-food restauranteur, made it possible for the Obamas to purchase a mansion they could otherwise not afford.

Mrs Rezko paid the asking price for the garden but the Obamas bought the house for $1.65 million, - $300,000 less than the asking price. The sellers deny they offered the Obamas a discount on the house because the garden had fetched full price from Mrs Rezko.

Mr Rezko has since been indicted for allegedly scheming to pressure companies seeking business with the state of Illinois for kickbacks and contributions to the governor Rod Blagojevich's campaign. He goes on trial on March 3.

A prosecution document filed last month alleged that a "political candidate" - identified by the Chicago Sun-Times as Mr Obama - received a $10,000 campaign contribution from what is said to be a $250,000 kickback in the corruption case. That means Mr Obama's name could figure in Mr Rezko's trial, although he is not accused of any wrongdoing.

Mr Obama insists he never used his office to do favours for Mr Rezko but admits that, as an Illinois state senator, he once wrote letters to housing officials urging them to provide money in support of a proposed apartment building for elderly people which Mr Rezko wanted to build.

Mr Obama has publicly sought to atone for his closeness to Mr Rezko, paying $150,000 to charity to distance himself from a man accused of political corruption.

The spotlight fell on Mr Rezko's ties to Mr Auchi last month when the Chicago businessman was thrown in jail for violating his bail terms by failing to declare a different $3.5 million loan from the British billionaire, made in April 2007. Prosecutors feared Mr Rezko, who travels widely in the Middle East, might flee to a country without an extradition treaty such as his birthplace of Syria.

Mr Auchi was convicted of corruption, given a suspended sentence and fined £1.4 million in France in 2003 for his part in the Elf affair, described as the biggest political and corporate scandal in post-war Europe. He, in a statement from his media lawyers, claims he is appealing against the sentence.

Mr Auchi founded his Luxembourg-based General Mediterranean Holding (GMH) in 1979, a year before he left Iraq. He says that he did business with his native country when it was considered a friend of the West but ceased to trade with the late Saddam Hussein's regime once sanctions were imposed after the invasion of Kuwait.

Mr Rezko has told a court that Mr Auchi is a "close friend." Mr Auchi's lawyer told The Times: "It is untrue that my client and Mr Rezko are 'close friends'. Mr Auchi first met Mr Rezko after the 2003 Iraq war and they have a business relationship."

Mr Rezko and Mr Auchi have been partners in a pizzeria business in the Mid-West and a major 62-acre land development in Riverside Park in Chicago.

According to court documents, Mr Rezko's lawyer said his client had "longstanding indebtedness" to Mr Auchi's GMH. By June 2007 he owed it $27.9 million.

Under a Loan Forgiveness Agreement described in court, Mr Auchi lent Mr Rezko $3.5 million in April 2005 and $11 million in September 2005, as well as the $3.5 million transferred in April 2007.

That agreement provided for the outstanding loans to be "forgiven" in return for a stake in the 62-acre Riverside Park development.

A posting last week on a GMH-owned website, middle-east-online.com, portrayed Mr Auchi as a Middle Eastern "Donald Trump" with a global business construction empire.

Mr Auchi visited the United States in 2004. Pictures show him meeting Emil Jones, the president of the Illinois state senate, an ally of Mr Obama, a former state senator.

Both Mr Auchi and Mr Obama say they have no memory of meeting each other. But, according to a source, the two may have had a brief encounter at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago where Mr Auchi’s visit was being honoured with a dinner attended by the Governor when Mr Obama, coincidentally in the hotel, dropped in.

An aide to Mr Obama said he did attend an event at the Four Seasons at which Mr Rezko was present but does not remember meeting Mr Auchi. "He shook a lot of hands and met a lot of people," the aide said. "We do not remember individual people."

Prosecutors say that, after Mr Auchi was unable to enter the United States in 2005, Mr Rezko approached the US State Department to get him a visa and apparently asked "certain Illinois government officials to do the same." Mr Obama denies he was approached. Mr Auchi's lawyer has emphasised to The Times that it would be entirely false to imply that money had been lent by GMH to Mr Rezko in return for Mr Rezko seeking to assist Mr Auchi to obtain a visa. The two men's relationship, the lawyer stressed, was a busines s one.

Mr Auchi's lawyer said the purpose of the Fintrade Services loan was to "assist the financial position" of a pizzeria company called AR Pizza, in which GMH held a shareholding. He said the loan had since been repaid in the form of a greater stake in the Chicago 62-acre land project.

AR Pizza has since become a defendant in a civil lawsuit by the Papa John's pizzeria chain, which alleges that it continued to operate a string of former Papa John's franchises under the name "Papa Tony's" without permission.

Mr Auchi's lawyer said: "My client played no part in the management and/or day to day running of AR Pizza, the GMH Group being an entirely passive investor in the company. Further, there was no need as a mimimum return on the investment was guaranteed. As to the court proceedings, my client is not a party to these. He denies any wrongdoing in relation to his involvement in AR Pizza."

Mr Rezko was also a major fundraiser for Governor Blagojevich. The governor's chief fundraiser Christopher Kelly, who also served as his gambling adviser, is fighting tax charges related to betting losses. The Associated Press reported that last month Mr Auchi's conglomerate also gave a loan to Mr Kelly secured on a Nevada land deal which the governor’s bagman was involved in.

link to (London) timesonline.com article

submitted by Luis
(contributing team member of Allegiance and Duty Betrayed)

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm....where's the New York Times on this? Ah yes, too busy reporting on McCain's alleged affair with Iseman.

cheryl gereau said...

So much for the "new breed" of politician who doesn't pander to special interests, doesn't answer to lobbyists, etc. He's even more crooked than the average bear.

Brian Spear said...

Criminently!

Proudpodunknative said...

Forget the corruption. What's more important is Obama's bagman, Rezko, has strong ties to Syria, and Auchi, the guy who "loaned" Obama millions, has Iraqi roots.

And we might elect this guy President of the United States??????

marcus aurelius said...

The article is revealing, but the title is misleading. No current American candidates for President are "embarrassed" by anything, unless the "embarrassment" promotes their candidacy. You can't be embarrassed if you have no scruples to begin with.

danthemangottschall said...

Like the title of the article below, it looks like this particular cat's out of the bag--- but why only in England? (/sarc)

fascismisyourwosrtenemy said...

I think we all know a little bit about Rezko, but the depth of this story has been ignored.

Another interesting tidbit about the media and their bias:

Dan Rather defended the NYT's McCain hit piece calling it outstanding journalism. It looks like "retirement" from CBS hasn't improved Dan's perspective.

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/geoffrey-dickens/2008/02/25/dan-rather-calls-ny-times-journos-mccain-hit-piece-outstanding

all_good_men said...

Most likely, Obama will maintain Mrs. Rezko's land for 21 years and then claim it by "adverse possession".

If you are expecting the MSM to report this story, I have a bridge to sell you.

Anonymous said...

I've heard about Rezko, but the web of stuff going on with this "British-Iraqi" billionaire is news to me.

POWER CORRUPTS.

If we elect President Obama, with all his gray-area connections to un-American groups, we deserve whatever happens.

I have to vote for McCain, as much as I can't stand the way he has always fought against the programs and nominees of the right. The thought of President Obama is TERRIFYING.

Anonymous said...

Eastern Europe and some of the rest of the world is moving toward capitalism and lower taxes, and America is going to elect a communist President. Go figure.

daveburkett said...

Mrs. Rezko's involvement sounds vaguely like a money laundering scheme. Par for the course, I'd say.

stonemason said...

"Mansion-gate"---it has a nice ring to it, except that the alternative candidate is no better.

Anonymous said...

The million dollar question is what does Auchi get in return?

calbrindisi said...

Good find Luis. It looks like I'm going to have to start subscribing to the London Times in order to get the truth.

Anonymous said...

I've been rooting for Obama over Clinton but the more I learn about his beliefs the more I think it's time to stop. I despise her as a person, but I think she's less communist than he is. (I actually said something that hints of "good" about Hillary Clinton.)

livefreeordie said...

"Ask Barack if He's Comfortable": Clinton Accuses NBC of SNL-ish Coddling

(How does it feel when the shoe's on the other foot, Hillary?)

http://www.breitbart.tv/?p=53714

john galt said...

The goal of the "liberals" as it emerges from the record of the past decades was to smuggle this country into welfare statism by means of single, concrete, specific measures, enlarging the power of the government a step at a time, never permitting these steps to be summed up into principles, never permitting their direction to be identified or the basic issue to be named. Thus, statism was to come, not by vote or by violence, but by slow rot -- by a long process of evasion and epistemological corruption, leading to a fait accompli.

---Ayn Rand

cw-patriot said...

From a brilliant FreeRepublic post by PhilDragoo:

William F. Buckley, Jr. has joined Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan in a place where the Left does not create a street hustle to enslave the world.

I ask, is McCain acceptable given his affirmation of respect for Obama and Clinton.

Obama is a Marxist-Muslim Alinsky accolyte who has dispatched his foreign policy advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski to Damascus for sweet tea with Goofy.

Clinton cut our military forty percent, gave our biggest enemy the beetles of Beijing all our military advantages, fricaseed Davidian women and children and kidnapped a free boy to give to a Communist butcher-warden.

McCain damaged our First Amendment right to freedom of political speech more than anyone in two hundred thirty years and will place us in hock on the altar of the execrable hustle global warming.

All three will gleefully silence the likes of Cunningham and Limbaugh with the fairness doctrine, and place us under the international criminal court.

All three will maintain open borders hastening the erosion of the nation through increasing drain on schools, hospitals, prisons and welfare entitlements.

All three oppose tax cuts at a time of economic uncertainty.

All three place a higher premium on civil rights for terrorists than the security of the American people.

The presumed nominee has been forced on us by leftist media and Republican quislings.

There is no way support for a fellow traveler of the nation's enemies can be a path with heart.

The simplest solution would be to draft Dick Cheney with his shotgun and use his advice for Leahy as our battle cry and bumper sticker.


~ joanie

Anonymous said...

REALLY SCARY as a future President:

http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=dl32Y7wDVDs

John Cooper said...

Rush Limbaugh had some perceptive comments today on Obama's corruption.

He said that basically, Obama's supporters just don't care, just like Clinton's supporters didn't care about his corruption and lies back in 1992.

Conservatives are mistaken when they think that if they can find *just one more example* of why Obama would make a bad president, it will make a difference.

It won't. Obama voters are NOT thoughful people.

cw-patriot said...

The recent revelation about Obama's behind-the-scenes assurances to Canada regarding his public NAFTA rhetoric aren't surprising, if true.

Most politicians (Obama most definitely included) have devalued honesty to the point at which it has become passé. And Obama supporters don't appear place it high on their list of presidential prerequisites either.

We've in large part reverted back to the Clinton era, during which the integrity of the candidate didn't matter, so long as we perceived that all was well within our own household, and that the government would promise to be there to pick up the slack if it weren't.

~ joanie