Politics

Who Are They?

Who is Nahdmi Auchi, who according to the British newspaper TimesOnline may have lent money through a company he controls in Panama to support a fundraiser for U.S. Senator Barack Obama in May 2005?

Who is Mr. Auchi? A British billionaire living in London, born in Iraq in 1937. And why would he, as it is alleged, lend money via a Panama company, Fintrade Services – of which his wife, Ibtisam Auchi, is said to be a director – to a freshmen U. S. senator from Illinois just a few months after he is sworn in as a very junior member of what was then a Democratic minority?

Who is Mr. Auchi, said to be the 279th richest man in the world, that he would provide through his overseas company wire transfers of $3,499,471 in April 2007, and another $200,000 in July 2007, to Antoin “Tony” Rezko, an indicted Chicago developer accused of defrauding Illinois citizens of at least $6 million? Rezko is a successful and veteran fundraiser for, among others, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and U.S. Senator Barack Obama.

Who is Mr. Auchi that he would be in business at least since 2003 with the Syrian-born American citizen Mr. Rezko, a man who is by the most forgiving accounts an undercapitalized Chicago developer; the same Mr. Rezko who proposed to the lionized British developer Mr. Auchi a joint development for a vacant a 62-acre tract along the Chicago River in downtown Chicago into which eventually Mr. Auchi invested, through his primary company, General Mediterranean Holdings (GMH), at least $170 million, sharing possession with the politically connected and pizza parlor-owning Mr. Rezko?

Who is Mr. Auchi, who asserts through his company that the suggestion he transferred covertly at least $3.7 millions to Mr. Rezko is “ridiculous”? Who is Mr. Auchi when the “Motion for Issuance of an Arrest Warrant,” presented by United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick J. Fitzgerald, advances the allegation that the reason for Mr. Rezko’s surprising re-arrest and detention since January 28, 2008, was that Mr. Rezko was obtaining funds from overseas, overwhelmingly from Mr. Auchi’s overseas company GMH, in an apparently nine-month-concealed scheme to avoid the scrutiny of the federal prosecutor.

Who is Mr. Auchi who has not commented publicly about the fact that the federal judge handling the case against Mr. Rezko, U.S District Judge Amy J. St. Eve, revoked the bond of Mr. Auchi’s business partner Mr. Rezko and jailed him, even as the case is scheduled to go to trial in two weeks?

Who is Mr. Auchi who, knowing the sensitivity and alarm at Mr. Rezko’s case around the Democratic campaign watchfires, has left it to GMH spokesmen to speak only generally and in banal syllables of the wire transfers – “We are acting with complete transparency” – while not addressing the suspicion that Mr. Rezko was using the money to prepare for flight?

Who is Mr. Auchi, who founded GMH in 1979 in Saddam’s Iraq, that he would also lend an unknown amount of money recently to Christopher Kelly, a former fund-raising colleague of Mr. Rezko’s, a man who is under indictment for impeding and obstructing the Internal Revenue Service investigation into how he sought to conceal his million-dollar gambling losses as a business expense of his suburban roofing company?

Who is Mr. Auchi that he traveled to Chicago in April 2004 to visit with Mr. Rezko, who in turn introduced him to Governor Blagojevich and other state officials, including it is alleged, the then-State Senator and Democratic Party candidate for the U.S. Senate, Barack Obama?

Who is Mr. Auchi that he was barred from visiting the United States again in November 2005, having difficulties in obtaining a U.S. tourist visa perhaps because of his 2003 conviction in a French court, now under appeal, as part of a graft scandal connecting to French government officials dating back to the first Gulf War; and despite appeals to the State Department by Mr. Rezko and others, including, according to court documents filed by federal prosecutors, “certain Illinois government officials”?

Who is Mr. Auchi, who is lauded as Britain’s Donald Trump, that he has involved himself with property discussions with prosaic Illinois politicians and alleged gamblers, defrauders and kickback-seekers, despite the fact he is a man who is presented by his attorneys as “one of Britain’s wealthiest men,” who, “has been a guest at the White House and met with two of the last three presidents”?

Who is Mr. Auchi who “was co-chair of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, is President of the Anglo-Arab Association, and has received numerous awards and honorary positions from heads of state, including Queen Elizabeth II, Pope John II, and King Abdullah II of Jordan,” and who received a congratulatory greeting card in 1999
signed by Tony Blair, William Hague, and Charles Kennedy, then the leaders of the major British parties, and some130 other British parliamentarians?

Who is Mr. Auchi – in connection with whom is it alleged that two websites belonging to GMH holdings have deleted information on Mr. Auchi’s April 2004 visit to Illinois when Mr. Auchi met and was photographed with Governor Rod Blagojevich; Illinois State Senate President Emil Jones Jr.; the Mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick; Mr. Auchi’s business partner, Mr. Rezko, and, it is speculated, the then-State Senator and Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, Barack Obama?

Who is Mr. Auchi such that the British attorney Alisdair Pepper, who represents Mr. Auchi especially with regard Britain’s stringent media laws, has recently sent warning letters to those, such as “RezkoWatch” blog and Larry Johnson of “No Quarter” blog, who have published remarks and questions about Mr. Auchi and his unclear and complex links to the troubled and castigated Mr. Rezko?

This is the same Mr. Rezko of whom the prominent presidential candidate Barack Obama told ABC This Week host George Stephanopoulos on January 27, 2008, the day before Mr. Rezko’s re-arrest apparently because of Mr. Auchi’s generous loans, “Tony Rezko was a friend of mine, a supporter, whom I had known for 20 years.”

Who is Mr. Auchi with the sometimes unsubstantiated European newspaper comments about his activities before and after the two Gulf Wars – including involvement with the
French government scandals with oil giant TotalFinaElf, including long-standing involvement with European bank BNP Paribas; including unproven financial links with strongmen such as Saddam Hussein and Colonel Muammar Qaddafi?

Who is this Mr. Auchi who is characterized by a Baghdad political commentator as a “Saddam guy” from way back in the early days of the Baathists, who was not trusted by the Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein in London in December 2002, and who today is regarded as no friend of the Iraqi government or people, having failed to visit Baghdad once since its liberation despite seeking lucrative and controversial communications business opportunities in the new Iraq?

Who is Nadhmi Auchi, this colorful and proud billionaire, whose history and politics are now crashing into the robust and necessary inquiry about who is Barrack Obama?  Who indeed?

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