Friday, March 19, 2010

What Does Alexi Giannoulias Have In Common with Iran - They Both Have the Same French Banker (UPDATED)

As the next segment in the continuing saga of "interesting" relationships between U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias and his personal and family financial relationships, we are now learning, via the Weekly Standard, that his family's real estate investment company, Giannoulias Enterprises, obtained loans from a French bank known for financial ties to Iran's energy interests:

Although several legislative efforts in Congress are currently in the works to apply more sanctions to Iran, and although Giannoulias has called Iran “the greatest single threat to peace in the Middle East,” when it comes to his personal finances, however, Giannoulias does not apply the same standards.

Giannoulias owns stock in his family’s Giannoulias Enterprises, a limited partnership that owns several properties in Chicago. Giannoulias’s brother, Demetris, serves as the president.

In April 2007, Giannoulias Enterprises refinanced its real estate portfolio, taking out a $21.5 million, 10-year loan on six properties – four of them being the locations of the family’s Broadway Bank. With all the banks in the world to choose from, Giannoulias Enterprises selected the French investment bank Natixis – an institution with a long and public history of doing business in Iran.

Congressman Mark Kirk, the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, responded:

“Once again, Alexi Giannoulias demonstrates a pattern of reckless decisions and questionable relationships,” campaign spokesman Richard Goldberg said. “Alexi Giannoulias pushed risky ‘hot money’ lending schemes at Broadway Bank and loaned millions of dollars to organized crime figures like Michael ‘Jaws’ Giorango. Now it appears Mr. Giannoulias’ family real estate portfolio is financed by a French bank known for its investments in Iran’s energy sector and connections to Iran's Central Bank. As a Senate candidate, Alexi Giannoulias says he supports divestment from companies doing business with Iran's energy sector; the State Treasurer should do the same with his personal finances.”

The Kirk Campaign also pointed out that:

On his campaign Web site, Alexi Giannoulias writes: "The U.S. government should publish a verified list of all companies doing business with the Revolutionary Guard and Iran’s energy sector so that Americans can make informed decisions about their investments."

Not only that, Alexi's campaign site states clearly that:

"The greatest single threat to peace in the Middle East is Iran. Iran’s funding and facilitation of terror, including through its proxies Hamas and Hezbollah, greatly destabilize the region. Iran’s activities threaten not only Israel, but also the U.S. and the rest of the world."

So, um, why is his family doing business with a bank so closely invested in the success of Iran???

UPDATED: Republican Jewish Coalition Issues Statement:

RJC troubled by report that IL Senate candidate Alexis Giannoulias' family bank has financial ties to Iran

Washington, D.C. (March 19, 2010) -- The Republican Jewish Coalition released the following statement today:

The Republican Jewish Coalition is deeply troubled by a report today about Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a Democrat running for Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat.

The report states that Alexi Giannoulias and his family financed their real estate holdings through a foreign bank that invests heavily in Iran's energy sector and the Central Bank of Iran.

As both state treasurer and a Senate candidate, Mr. Giannoulias is no doubt aware of the efforts to use sanctions against Iran - including freezing Iranian assets abroad and prohibiting investment in Iran's energy sector - to pressure the Iranian regime to halt its nuclear weapons development.

Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), Giannoulias' Republican opponent, has been a strong advocate in the U.S. House of Representatives for Iran sanctions.

Yet while Mark Kirk pushes for stronger Iran sanctions in Congress, Alexi Giannoulias does business with one of the worst offenders. The French bank Natixis held over $100 million in deposits from the Central Bank of Iran when the Giannoulias family took out a $21.5 million loan from Natixis to refinance its real estate holdings.

This raises serious questions about Giannoulias' credibility and judgment that need to be answered.


Badge of Honor said...

I wonder how Giannoulias would answer on the "Disclosure of Business with Iran" document to which any firm wanting to do business with the State of Illinois must attest?

Anonymous said...

Not a fan of dropping this story on a friday, the day before a health care vote while most people are on spring break. Not a good move or way to get the story legs. JV work going on here.

I would prefer to see this dropped in mid april on a tuesday morning so it could move its way through the news media with devestating impact.


Crazy4glf said...

While I would have liked David Hoffman to have won the Primary, if we're going to play the affiliation 'game,' it occurs to me that Prescott Bush an appreciation for unique forms of government, in what I would consider to have been questionable nations. Pre-emptive strike: If one has run on a platform of their values, of how they were raised, of their faith, and the aforementioned's impact on what they believe - almost as in court - they open themselves up to having those involved in this up-bringing being mentioned or pondered.

It also occurs to me that another Bush got a free pass on his involvement with another dictatorship (plus or minus 2-3 dictatorships, but who's counting, he's a GOP'er? All GOP failings are harmless errors regardless of what the horrendous outcomes are, right?).
Is this the Reagan approach to foreign policy that Romney et Al conjures up? (Iran-Contra and we will not negotiate with terrorists
and dictators are not one in the same, but I don't have G.W.'s prep school pedigree.)

It also occurs to me that, if one has an ear to the ground, the most recent iteration of the Bush family clan made some decisions that didn't necessarily seem to match his anti-terror approach or style (can you say Saudi Arabia, who was detained, and who was ignored? Don't believe me? Go Google Bush's comments about former public enemies a few years into his brief, urgently necessarly, and self-supporting war. Its there!).

I know, why does this matter? Well if one is somewhat objective and consistent in their view of what is right or wrong, if one views all or most people based on the same benchmarks, reasons why current politicians should not be elected should be close to the same reasons why previous politicians should not have been elected either.
To me, this is why a lot of Americans have lost faith in Republicans. Its hard to be seen as fiscally conservative, as against 'arcane tactics,' and as compassionate when they've approved gobs of spending based on the same borrowing they now lament, when they used the very same tactics to ensure that borrowing took place, and as standing in the way of 27 million Americans having a chance for somewhat affordable health insurance (30 million - 3 million in GOP plan = 3 million for those scoring at home and/or that all of a sudden find fault with the CBO, but I digress).
If you are ok with your 'best effort' being something that only extends some semblance of affordable health insurance to approximately 10% of the people who need it (who happen to live in most Congressional Districts), I'm not sure you can call yourself concerned, sensitive, and beyond compassionate (unless the compassion is for Bear Stearns, UHC, and others).

While Alexi is not my first choice, Mark Kirk's blaming constituents for how he votes 2 counties over; his being less than diplomatic in China, after saying NOTHING in response to the unusual budgetary gimmicks and slight of hand that Bush used (borrowing from foreign nations, tax cuts via RECONCILIATION, and not including the cost of the wars in his budgets, etc.); and not being who he claims to be (thoughtful, consistent, independent, worthy of my vote); I'd be hard-pressed to vote for him either.

Let me make myself as clear as can be: I've heard Mr. Giannoulias in person and was not impressed. However, I've also seen Mr. Kirk and am not impressed. For those that doubt evolution, take a look at the candidate who started off at least wanting to appear independent, concerned about equality, keeping the government out of the woman's healthcare clinic, and the environment to someone who desires Sara Palin's endorsement, I think we've seen quite the change. Unless Mr. Kirk was always a staunch conservative and did and said anything (except for significant, tangible legislation being signed-into law) to be liked and elected - must be that government health insurance he likes so much!

Blue Wind said...

Hey TA,
This is probably the very worst post I have seen in your blog. Smearing the other candidate like this, is ridiculous.

Giannoulias is simply the best candidate and will defeat relatively easily Kirk in November. Get used to the idea of Senator Giannoulias.

Team America said...

Blue, you think this is bad? Given the material I have to work with, if you think this is the end of Lexi's banking troubles, you have another think coming. Besides, maybe you ought to complain to the Weekly Standard.

My biggest fear is that Lexi gets forced out too soon and the Dems get themselves someone credible.

Blue Wind said...

Forget it. Kirk is not electable. The tea-partiers will not vote for him because he is socially liberal and that will cost him the election. He may deceive some people and get some independent votes, but he will not be able to consolidate the conservative base and he will lose the election.

These days voters prefer to vote principled people. Giannoulias is a principled liberal and he is proud to call himself a liberal. What is Kirk? lol Certainly not a principled conservative.

Anonymous said...

Makes it difficult for the White House to come here

Anonymous said...

Blue Wind, are you trying to be funny? Alexi is PRINCIPLED? Sure, and pigs fly. What planet do you call home these days??

Blue Wind said...

Planet IL10.

As for Alexi, he is about 100 times more principled than Kirk.

Anonymous said...

You have zero credibility, Blue Wind. Back up your statement and then we can have at it. One look at the media reports on Alexi and his Bank dealings says it all about him. You are either blind or just illiterate and can't read.

Anonymous said...

Mark should fire whoever allowed this piece to see the light of day.

If Natixis is bad, then Mark should not accept campaign donations from Natixis and its subsidiaries. He should return the Iranian blood money given by them, right? Yet Mark has received over $10000 from donors who work for Natixis' US subsidiary, Harris Associates. In fact, these are donors who max out for Mark. I have an idea, let's send a copy of your piece to those donors and see what they think about what you are saying about their work.

Second of all, you would think if Natixis is bad because of its Iranian connections, Mark should not himself have an ownership stake in companies doing business in Iran. Yet one of his largest mutual fund investments is one of the largest shareholders in Schlumberger, which is probably THE NUMBER ONE PARTY responsible for maintaining Iran's oil and gas fields. Nice job oppo staff.

The last reason why the person who came with this should be fired is that Mark's mutual fund investment has also invested in other French companies. Think that might include Natixis? That would mean Mark personally benefited from an association with Natixis. Better get some GOOD people to check this out ...