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.