30Mar/120

Does the Sun Times have a lawsuit accusing the McMahon’s of fraudulent contracting practices?

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Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter, Illinois PayToPlay

About five weeks before the Sun Times stated that a ”Whistleblower” lawsuit had been filed by Daniel T. Frawley accusing the McMahon’s of fraudulent business practices, the paper received a copy of a related document from a source known to Illinois PayToPlay.

Was that mid-January document the basis for the paper’s recent articles about the McMahon’s?  If so, that’s a problem for the paper that begs several questions.

Does the “Whistleblower” lawsuit, mentioned by the Sun Times in that March 24, 2012 article, even exist?  Or, did the paper, now solidly in the political camp of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, take information from an unverified document, leaked to it by a confidential source, and use that information to attack contractors once closely associated with the Daley regime?

The document that Illinois PayToPlay made public on March 25th, came out a day after the Sun Times kicked off a series of pieces dealing with the McMahon’s.  But, the document had been sent to the paper by a confidential source back on January 17, 2012, attached to the email below.

        From: (sender’s name withheld)
        To: "Tim Novak" <tnovak@suntimes.com>, "Tim Novak"
        Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 3:14:57 PM
        Subject: Fwd: Frawley Whistleblower suit ?

        Tim,

The attached doc. came from a source in contact with Dan Frawley. It was initially represented to us as being a "whistleblower lawsuit" that Frawley filed that involves the McMahons. It was also represented as being sealed.

When we questioned the veracity of the document as to whether it was an actual legal filing - since it is a crude read even without the added comments, presumedly from Frawley - the source amended the description and described it as a "prototype" of the lawsuit.

Recently, that same source suggested that Frawley is happy that you're investigating the McMahons via FOIAs. We can't confirm the veracity of the doc., but thought you might find it of some value in pursuit of a possible story.

It is forwarded in confidence. We don't know what to make of it. Maybe you do. Maybe nothing.

 

The sender clearly had reservations about the authenticity of the document as representing an actual, filed lawsuit.

When the Sun Times stated on March 24 that, “Frank McMahon’s first cousin, Daniel T. Frawley, filed a “whistleblower” lawsuit in federal court last July accusing McMahon Food, C & C and Krystal of actually being run by men, even though the companies are certified as being women-owned and –operated,” Illinois PayToPlay wondered if the paper had accepted the January 17 document as an actual lawsuit – which seemed unlikely at the time – or had a copy of a genuine, court-filed lawsuit representing Frawley’s accusations.

When a representative of the paper was subsequently asked if a verified, filed lawsuit had been obtained, the representative was unwilling to respond.  Why not?  It was a simple yes-no question.   Perhaps either answer would have caused problems.  A “no” means there is no lawsuit and the paper knows that.  A “yes” could mean someone illegally leaked a sealed court document to the paper.

Illinois PayToPlay wonders if a real, Frawley-initiated, court-filed lawsuit exists, anywhere on the planet. If it does exist, why won’t the Sun Times just show it to its readers?

If it doesn’t exist, then it looks like the paper took an unsubstantiated lawsuit, gleaned allegations from it unfavorable to a contractor for the City of Chicago during the Daley administration, and then used that information to portray Mayor Emanuel as intent on cleaning up the corruption of the previous regime.

In other words, the Sun Times is bending stories to shill for the Emanuel administration?

On March 27, 2012, the Sun Times announced that, “Mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing to permanently ban an electrical contracting company with ties to Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) from getting city work because its owners and their husbands allegedly operated phony women- and minority-owned companies that have gotten millions of dollars in city contracts.”

That announcement came just 72 hours after the Sun Times March 24 article mentioning the Frawley lawsuit. That’s fast. That’s awfully fast. So fast, in fact, that we wonder if the paper knew the ban was already in the works and, in coordination with His Honor’s Office, teed up the ban announcement with its series on the McMahon’s, based on an alleged Frawley “Whistleblower” lawsuit that doesn’t exist.

 

 

 

 

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28Mar/120

Further Update: Details of Frawley v. McMahon “Whistleblower” Lawsuit Just Exposed By Sun Times

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Ernie Souchak, Editor-in-Chief, Illinois PayToPlay

Further Update:

Apparently, in response to articles recently run by the Chicago Sun Times that state, as fact, that a “Whistleblower” lawsuit was filed by Daniel T. Frawley in July 11, 2011,Mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing to permanently ban an electrical contracting company with ties to Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) from getting city work because its owners and their husbands allegedly operated phony women- and minority-owned companies that have gotten millions of dollars in city contracts.”

This proposed ban was announced today, March 28, 2012, in the Sun Times.  

His Honor and the paper must have access to a fully-authenticated, signed copy of a date-stamped lawsuit that we, at Illinois PayToPlay cannot locate. If they don’t, their claims of its existence are specious. But let’s reserve judgment.

We need your help.

If you have proof that such a lawsuit was filed, post here on comment board.

If it was filed and sealed in July 2011, it should be available to the public by now. And, if it was filed and remains sealed, how did the Sun Times get a copy? Are there not illegalities involved in leaking a sealed court document? Lastly, if it was never filed, what’s this assault on the McMahon’s all about anyway?

Developing…

Update:

The Chicago Sun Times has now run the second of what it promises is a three part series concerning a whistleblower lawsuit filed by attorneys representing Daniel T. Frawley.  The Sun Times has yet to provide its readers a copy of that lawsuit.  Is it the same one Illinois Pay-To-Play posted below?  If it is not, it is time for the Sun Times to show its readers the lawsuit on which it’s series is based.  

(Originally posted on Illinois Pay-to-Play  3-25-2012)

In an article dated March 24, 2012, the Chicago Sun Times broke the explosive story of a lawsuit filed July 2011 by Daniel T. Frawley, cooperating federal government mole-informant in Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation of Tony Rezko, and former Rezko business partner.

According to the Sun Times, the lawsuit charges various members of the McMahon family, associated with McMahon-owned businesses, of fraudulent contracting practices.  The reporters wrote that,

“Frank McMahon’s first cousin, Daniel T. Frawley, filed a “whistleblower” lawsuit in federal court last July accusing McMahon Food, C & C and Krystal of actually being run by men, even though the companies are certified as being women-owned and -operated. As a result, Frawley says McMahon Food was able to obtain multimillion-dollar deals with Cook County government, including supplying dairy goods to the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.”

Illinois PayToPlay recently received a copy of a “whistleblower” lawsuit attributed to Frawley, by a confidential source, that fits the description of the document exposed by the Sun Times. Uncertain of its authenticity at the time, we chose not to make it public, but do so now.

Here is a pdf. link to the lawsuit we received. Daniel Frawley Whistleblower Lawsuit (PDF) - We have not yet been able to contact the firm named as representing Frawley for comment.

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26Mar/120

Sun Times Watchdogs pounce on an eight year old story: Sic’ em dogs!

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Annabel Kent, Chicago Media Critic

This dated picture of former Mayor Daley and current State’s Attorney Lisa Alvarez was recently brought to the attention of two Sun Times Watchdogs by “lawyers for the family of David Koschman, who died after the police say Vanecko punched him in the face.”  (Well, shoot, the dogs can’t find every bone in the Koschman story.)

The photo was found on Alvarez’s Facebook page, by the Koschman family lawyers.

The same Watchdogs who posted the photo, also wrote an article entitled “Did Daley nephew Vanecko confess to fatal punch?” that appeared on March 21, 2012.  The news in the article – that Vanecko may have confessed, soon after the event, to hitting Koschman – is attributed to “attorneys for Koschman’s family” who made the assertion “in a court filing Wednesday.”

So, about eight years after the death of David Koschman, the real watchdogs – as in alert canines trained to attack nefarious characters – turn out to be…drum roll…the Koschman lawyers, and not so much the byline Watchdogs.

Awakened to the barking, the Sun Times Watchdogs, trot toward the commotion, arriving on the crime scene, panting, a couple of years short of a human decade later – or, in dog years, 70 years late.

You suppose their tardiness has anything at all to do with having a new mayoral regime, open to exposing the…ah, deficiencies…of the previous one?  Or, the fact that Mayor Emanuel has several campaign finance contributors on the new Sun Times board?

Bow wow.

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25Mar/121

Update: Details of Frawley v. McMahon “Whistleblower” Lawsuit Just Exposed By Sun Times

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Ernie Souchak, Editor-in-Chief, Illinois PayToPlay

Update:

The Chicago Sun Times has now run the second of what it promises is a three part series concerning a whistleblower lawsuit filed by attorneys representing Daniel T. Frawley.  The Sun Times has yet to provide its readers a copy of that lawsuit.  Is it the same one Illinois Pay-To-Play posted below?  If it is not, it is time for the Sun Times to show its readers the lawsuit on which it’s series is based.  

(Originally posted on Illinois Pay-to-Play  3-25-2012)

In an article dated March 24, 2012, the Chicago Sun Times broke the explosive story of a lawsuit filed July 2011 by Daniel T. Frawley, cooperating federal government mole-informant in Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation of Tony Rezko, and former Rezko business partner.

According to the Sun Times, the lawsuit charges various members of the McMahon family, associated with McMahon-owned businesses, of fraudulent contracting practices.  The reporters wrote that,

“Frank McMahon’s first cousin, Daniel T. Frawley, filed a “whistleblower” lawsuit in federal court last July accusing McMahon Food, C & C and Krystal of actually being run by men, even though the companies are certified as being women-owned and -operated. As a result, Frawley says McMahon Food was able to obtain multimillion-dollar deals with Cook County government, including supplying dairy goods to the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.”

Illinois PayToPlay recently received a copy of a “whistleblower” lawsuit attributed to Frawley, by a confidential source, that fits the description of the document exposed by the Sun Times.  Uncertain of its authenticity at the time, we chose not to make it public, but do so now.

Here is a pdf. link to the lawsuit we received. Daniel Frawley Whistleblower Lawsuit (PDF) - We have not yet been able to contact the firm named as representing Frawley for comment.

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23Mar/120

WikiLeaks on the Auchi-Rezko-Blago Connection

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Thomas Barton, Illinois Pay-to-Play Political Commentator

The photo above originally appeared in a “Middle East website” and shows, left to right, Nadhmi Auchi, then Governor Rod Blagojevich, and a man who appears to be the then Iraq Minister of Electricity, Aiham Alsammarae, pictured alone below.

Alsammarae now lives in a northern suburb of Chicago.

Previously on Illinois PayToPlay, you were introduced to Andrew Walden’s 2008 piece, posted by Accuracy In Media, entitled “Iraqi Billionaire Threatens Reporters Investigating Rezko Affair.”

Bin 2008, Walden doggedly examined Nadhmi Auchi’s involvement in Illinois politics.  His piece below was posted by WikiLeaks.  It focuses on the extensive efforts taken by Auchi’s lawyers to suppress references to their client, worldwide.  Some of the links in the original may no longer work.

__________________________________________________________________________

Debunking the Carter Ruck defence of British-Iraqi billionaire Nadhmi Auchi

May 30, 2008 By Andrew Walden (Hawai'i Free Press)

“Nadhmi Auchi, seen here with the Governor of Illinois, Rob Blagojevich (middle) at a 2004 Chicago dinner in Auchi's honor arranged by Antonin Rezko (potentially, right )[1] [It’s not Rezko in the photo.]  All three men have been convicted of corruption related charges (Auchi 2003, Rezko 2008, Blagojevich 2009).[2]

“A British-Iraqi billionaire lent millions of dollars to Barack Obama's fundraiser (dual US-Syrian citizen Tony Rezko) 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.” -- The Times of London February 26, 2008

The Auchi-Rezko-Obama connection came to public attention with federal marshals pounding on the door of Tony Rezko’s Wilmette Chicago mansion in the early morning of January 28, 2008. They hauled Rezko to jail after his bail was revoked for concealing a $3.5 million Auchi loan from the court. The Times outlines the story in two sentences. It should be of tremendous interest to the American public and the world.

But there is more to this story than run-of-the mill political corruption. Nadhmi Auchi is alleged to have a long affiliation with Iraqi Baathism and Saddam Hussein—which his attorneys deny. How close were they? According to a 1960 US Embassy report, Auchi was convicted along with Saddam by an Iraqi court for his part in a failed 1959 assassination attempt against then-Iraqi Prime Minister Qassim. For his crime, Auchi earned a sentence of “three years rigorous imprisonment.”

{snip}

Journalists digging into stories involving Auchi often find themselves peppered with threats of libel litigation from a London law firm known as Carter-Ruck. Auchi’s litigation threats have chased eight articles from the internet sites of the UK Guardian, Observer and New Statesman.

{snip}

WikiLeaks itself is now under legal attack by Auchi’s lawyers.

What is so stifling about English libel law? In the U.K., as Carter-Ruck explains and Slander Cases.html on its own website:  “A libel claimant does not have to prove that the words are false or to prove that he has in fact suffered any loss. Damage is presumed.”

In a December, 2003, obituary, former C-R partner David Hooper wrote:

“The libel lawyer Peter Carter-Ruck, who died on Friday, had a chilling effect on the media. He was a chancer, out for the maximum fee. And he did for freedom of speech what the Boston Strangler did for door-to-door salesmen.”

Posted on the Carter-Ruck website, Injunctions.html an article by C-R partner Nigel Tait outlines the limited legal bases for “prior restraint” in England but then explains that some publishers can be convinced to censor themselves by “the first two (sic) weapons of the Spanish Inquisition. Fear, surprise and ruthless efficiency.”

Perhaps hoping to inspire “fear and surprise” with “ruthless efficiency” Carter-Ruck demand letters—laden with misspellings and what appear to be cut-and-paste formulations--have been going out not only to large British newspapers, but also to American newspapers and both well-known and obscure bloggers.

Posted on April 23, 2008—in the midst of the US Presidential race--an article on Auchi’s Middle East Online website boasted of knocking six articles off of the Guardian and Observer websites. Bloggers began receiving Carter-Ruck letters demanding that allegedly defamatory comments be removed from their comments section. MEO displayed a sphinx-like image of Auchi. The caption: "Tracking even the search engines."

It worked. When the November election came and went, the American public barely knew Rezko and knew Auchi even less. Obama won.”…

Read Walden’s thorough refutation of Carter-Ruck’s position here on WikiLeaks.

 

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22Mar/120

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. & Nadhmi Auchi: Mutual Admiration

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Jontel Kassidy, Senior Capital Correspondent

In case you missed the news back in October 2010, the Anglo Arab Organisation honored Chicago’s Reverend Jesse Jackson for his role in promoting “peace and justice.”  Here he is being greeted by Nadhmi Auchi, President of the AAO, headquartered in Britain.

The AAO website noted that:

“’We remember how the Americans shunned and did not mix with their black brethrens. But today, the [sic} has a black President,’ said Auchi.  ‘The {sic} plays an important role in different parts of the world along with many countries including [sic}. Just and lasting peace can be achieved, especially between Israelis and Palestinians and in {sic},’ added Auchi.

Edward Davey, British Minister for Employment Relations, Consumer and Postal Affairs, praised Rev. Jackson's struggle for human rights not only in the US but also in the world.
Davey highlighted the British economic policy in his speech, stressing his country would not cease helping poor countries in the world.

Rev. Jackson highlighted some of the stages of his struggle for human rights. He pointed out that among the conditions for achieving peace with the Palestinians was to look after the people, their rights and economic life.

‘It is true that there is globalization, but the truth is we need a globalization of helping workers and the rest of humanity,’ said Rev. Jackson.

Auchi and Rev. Jackson exchanged symbolic gifts at the end of the reception, which was attended by many important British and Arab personalities as well as heads of diplomatic missions and Arab journalists in Britain.”

There’s no indication in the AAO press release at the time that anyone brought up Jackson’s reference once to New York City as “Hymietown”.  In 1984, while speaking with a Washington Post reporter, he called Jews “Hymies” and the Big Apple…well, you know.

A few weeks later, Jackson’s remarks were printed by another WaPo reporter. At first, Jackson denied the accusation; then later he confessed and offered an emotional mea culpa before a largely Jewish audience.

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20Mar/120

Besides the Postman Video, Jerome Corsi has another about Obama

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 <<BREAKING NEWS>>

Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter & Annabel Kent, Chicago Media Critic

Illinois PayToPlay has learned that, in addition to the Postman video recently released by Jerome Corsi on World Net Daily, Corsi also holds a 2011 recorded interview with former Rezko associate Daniel T. Frawley.

The recording was made late last year in Chicago in a meeting that involved Corsi, Frawley and three other persons who gathered to discuss the possibility of writing a book.

The recording reportedly includes a description of how, in 2004, during Nadhmi Auchi’s visit to Chicago, Auchi, Antoin “Tony” Rezko, and Barack Obama met in the basement “cigar room” inside Rezko’s 30-room mansion in Wilmette, Illinois where they discussed, among other things, the purchase of a 62-acres plot in the South Loop.

A January 2012 lawsuit pitting a Chicago investor in the land purchase, Semir Sirazi, against Auchi was linked in a previous Illinois PayToPlay article.

In response to an inquiry concerning access to the Frawley video, Corsi confirmed that Auchi’s ’04 Chicago visit was discussed but that the video would only be released with Frawley’s approval.

A recent post on Illinois PayToPlay reported that Frawley claims that he gave Rezko $400,000 in cash that Rezko then gave to Obama.

Frawley faces sentencing in mid-April on a bank fraud charge to which he pled guilty in February 2011.

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18Mar/120

Semir Sirazi vs. Nadhmi Auchi: A Chicago Lawsuit Underway

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Thomas Barton, Illinois Pay-to-Play Political Commentator

The repercussions of Tony Rezko’s business dealings with Nadhmi Auchi are now playing out in a lawsuit, filed on January 30, 2012 in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, pitting Plaintiffs Semir D. Sirazi, Greenstone Capital L.L.C. and Mardini, Inc., vs. Defendants General Mediterranean Holding, SA, Orifarm, SA, and Nadhmi Auchi.

The first numbered paragraph of the complaint sets the table:

1. This case arises out of the GMH Defendants' efforts to leapfrog the Sirazi Plaintiffs, superior creditors of Antoin S. Rezko1 ("Rezko") by secretly obtaining Rezko's ownership interests in a 62 acre parcel in Chicago's South Loop co-owned with the GMH Defendants (the "Parcel") in exchange for forgiving Rezko's debts to them and providing Rezko with access to millions of dollars in new capital.

Here’s the entire document:

Are you wondering who Nadhmi Auchi is?

Illinois PayToPlay recently posted a 2008 piece written by John A Shaw, former senior official of US Defense, State, and Commerce departments that answers that question.

We’ll highlight below another article about Auchi, this one written in 2008 by Andrew Walden. It will explain why you haven’t heard much about Auchi to date.  It’s because he has lawyers in Great Britain and the U.S. who, over the years, have…discouraged…writers for both the legacy media and the new media bloggers from even mentioning Auchi.

That includes the Chicago Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune.

That makes this lawsuit all the more interesting, since it’s a matter of public record and impossible to suppress – although it is possible to ignore, as the Chicago big dailies have been doing.

Now, if you’re interested in knowing more about Nadhmi Auchi, here’s some of Walden’s piece:

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

Iraqi Billionaire Threatens Reporters Investigating Rezko Affair

Posted By Andrew Walden, August 24, 2008 @ 12:18 pm, In Accuracy In Media

“Why aren’t the American media investigating the role of British billionaire businessman Nadhmi Auchi in supplying loans to Barack Obama fundraiser Tony Rezko? Some point to media bias, but there is another factor. Working for Auchi, who was born in Iraq, attorneys from London law firm Carter-Ruck have for several months been flooding American and British newspapers and websites with letters demanding removal of material they deem “defamatory” to their client.

In its June 28 edition [1], British satirical magazine Private Eye explains: “Until Carter-Ruck and Partners and England’s stifling libel laws got to work, the few American journalists not caught up in Obama-mania were turning to the archives of the British press to answer an intriguing question: who is Nadhmi Auchi [2]?”

What is so “stifling” about English libel law? In the U.K., as Carter-Ruck explains on its own website [3], “A libel claimant does not have to prove that the words are false or to prove that he has in fact suffered any loss. Damage is presumed.”

The Obama campaign recently issued a non-denial [4] denial in response to claims that Obama met with Auchi―contained in Jerome Corsi’s bestseller, The Obama Nation. They cited only two references. One is, “Mr. Auchi’s lawyer” who told the February 27, 2008 London Evening Standard, “As far as he can remember he has had no direct contact with Mr. Obama.” Another is, “A lawyer for Auchi, Alasdair Pepper” who says, according to the April 16, 2008 Washington Post, “Auchi Had ‘No Recollection’ Of Meeting Obama or Michelle.” Alasdair Pepper is the attorney whose name appears [5] on the Carter-Ruck [6] demand letters [7].

The Secret Loan

A secret $3.5 million loan [8] from an Auchi company to key early-money Barack Obama fundraiser Antoin Rezko was exposed while Rezko was awaiting trial on fraud and money-laundering charges earlier this year. Rezko’s bail was revoked and police showed up banging on the doors of his Wilmette Chicago mansion to drag him off to jail early in the morning of January 28th [9]. Auchi’s loan to Rezko had come on May 23, 2005 but had not been disclosed to the Court as required in his bail agreement. Three weeks later, on June 15, 2005, Rezko’s wife assisted the Obamas in the purchase of their South Chicago mansion by purchasing a next-door undeveloped lot being sold with the house.

According to the Times of London [10], “Mr. Rezko’s lawyer said his client had ‘longstanding indebtedness’ to Mr. Auchi’s General Mediterranean Holding (GMH). By June 2007 he owed it $27.9 million. Under a Loan Forgiveness Agreement described in court, M. Auchi lent Mr. Rezko $3.5 million in April 2005 and $11 million in September 2005, as well as $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.

Rezko’s relationship with Barack Obama goes back to at least 1990, when Obama’s law firm did work relating to thousands of now-decaying [11]Rezko apartment units in South Chicago. Rezko was a key early-money fundraiser in Obama’s state Senate campaigns and his failed run at the U.S. Congress.

According to The Times of London [12], “Mr. Auchi first met Mr. Rezko after the 2003 Iraq war and they have a business relationship.” At the time Auchi was facing the possibility of extradition to France [13]. The Times of London [14] explains: “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.”

In 2003, Nick Cohen of the UK Guardian [15] wrote:

Allow me to introduce you to Nadhmi Auchi. He was charged in the 1950s with being an accomplice of Saddam Hussein, when the future tyrant was acquiring his taste for blood. He was investigated in the 1980s for his part in alleged bribes to the fabulously corrupt leaders of post-war Italy. In the 1990s, the Belgium Ambassador to Luxembourg claimed that Auchi’s bank held money Saddam and Colonel Gadaffi had stolen from their luckless peoples. In 2002, officers from the Serious Fraud Squad raided the offices of one of Auchi’s drug companies as part of an investigation of what is alleged to be the biggest swindle ever of the (British National Health Service). With allegations, albeit unproven, like these hanging over him, wouldn’t you think that British MPs would have the sense to stay away?

But after threats from Carter-Ruck, Cohen’s “defamatory” article became one of six Guardian and Observer articles [16]scrubbed from the Internet this April.

Blogger “A Jacksonian [17]received a similar demand [18] on or before June 24. His article is still up. It details much of the information contained in the six deleted Guardian/Observer articles.

Source of Wealth

Auchi in 1967 began an Iraq Oil Ministry career eventually rising to be Director of Planning and Development under the Baathist dictatorship. He formed GMH in 1979 and then left Iraq. A key source of weapons procurement for Iraq [19] during the Iran-Iraq war, GMH became the largest single private shareholder [20] of Banque Nationale du Paris (BNP) which later merged with Paribas to form BNP-Paribas. BNP and BNP-Paribas, at Saddam Hussein’s insistence, handled all Oil-for-Food [21] transactions [22] until 2001 when the incoming administration of George W. Bush demanded change. ”Sirazi v GMH (62 acre S. Loop)

…to read more of Walden’s article click here

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17Mar/120

Mission Accomplished: Blago Joins Rezko in the Silence Chamber of Federal Prison

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Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter

The crime spree that plagued Illinois, and that was boldly brought to a stop by the sudden arrest of Governor Rod Blagojevich, is now officially over.

Blago is behind bars, and Patrick Fitzgerald’s mission is complete:  Blago joins Rezko in the silence chamber of federal prison where the treasure trove of what they know about Illinois corruption, past and present, has been muted.

Gee, for a war against statewide crime, there sure aren’t many official casualties, except, of course, Illinois’ citizens.

We’ll never know what Blago meant in these audio clips where he talks (in language unsuitable for children) in cryptic terms about the relationship between then U.S. Senator Barack Obama and Antoin “Tony Rezko.”

(Video: H/T Citizen Wells News)

We’ll never know the extent of influence that the international billionaire financier in the photograph wielded over Tony, Blago, and Barack.

And, as soon as the two remaining Rezko Watchers highlighted in a recent piece in the Chicago Daily Observer receive their sentences this spring – unless sentencing is postponed yet again for Daniel Frawley and Daniel Mahru – they, too, will fade into silence, joining Bernard Barton, AKA John Thomas.

In the immortal words of Sonny & Cher…the beat goes on.

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15Mar/120

From Baghdad to Chicago: Rezko and the Auchi empire

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“I first began to fathom the extent of Nadhmi Auchi's reach and corrupting influence when I was given responsibility for monitoring illegal transfers of technology and munitions to Iraq as well as overseeing all coalition transportation and communications reconstruction in Iraq. "

JOHN A. SHAW (Opinion: former senior official of US Defense, State, and Commerce departments)
 October 10, 2008

Barack Obama has been appropriately strident in his condemnation of the mortgage-based financial corruption which nearly led to the collapse of the investment banking system in the United States. But there are some strong smelling financial skeletons in his own closet. Obama has his own personal housing crisis that is tied not into Fanny Mae, but into a corrupt international financial combine headed by Nadhmi Auchi, the convicted Iraqi billionaire at the center of the Elf Aquitaine corruption trial in France. Auchi has been shown to be the fountainhead of a source of corruption flowing from Iraq, to France, Italy, and the United States. His financial network, under a Luxembourg company called General Mediterranean Holdings, spread from Baghdad and the Middle East to Paris, (where Auchi successfully posited Saddam's UN Oil for Food scheme), London, Washington, and Chicago, making very few ripples and raising no concerns.

Auchi is suave, cosmopolitan, brilliant, and ruthless, and he has bottomless pockets. His business is international banking, which is complexly organized and appropriately camouflaged to conceal any criminal activity. He is the Godfather, but speaks in an Iraqi, not a Sicilian, dialect. A British survey credits him with being toward the bottom of a list of the two hundred richest men in the world. But in such a rendering Auchi would both feign modesty and ensure that any such accounting show only the tip of his financial iceberg. Other sources credit him with being the fifth richest man in the world. His methodology, however, is straightforward: Under cover of seeking legitimate business, buy whoever is necessary in the political decision chain to control the process and the outcome. As his longtime telecommunications partner Ala al-Hawaja, candidly put it to a potential competitor in Cairo, "there is nothing that cannot be accomplished with a suitcase full of money". So far he has been proven correct.

Auchi has claimed to have been "a visitor to two White Houses", and his London web site flashes a picture of him at the Clinton White House between Bill Clinton and Al Gore (a long way from his early days with Saddam Hussein as part of a Baathist assassination squad.) Auchi is, however, also the shadowy puppet master to Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a Syrian American with whom he partnered for more than a decade in schemes from Baghdad all the way to Chicago. Their relationship began in the wake of the Iran-Iraq War, when the US was cultivating Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Rezko is now in federal prison awaiting sentencing for 16 counts of corruption involving Illinois officials. Buying influence is his métier, guided and financed by his master, Auchi. Rezko has also been a White House visitor, with his picture taken with Bill and Hillary Clinton for his contributions out of Chicago to the Clinton political war chest. Was Rezko then and now merely the main Chicago conduit for Auchi money? Or was he part of a larger Iraqi scheme dating back to Saddam to buy access to US government contracts and influence? What specifically was Auchi buying and where else did his money go? Was Obama, like the governor of Illinois, a recipient of Auchi's favors as part of Rezko's scheme to purchase government contracts through kickbacks from campaign contributions? There is no question that Obama, as a fledgling state senator, was a target of the Iraqi corruption combine, but did he become one of its pigeons? Was Rezko simply the front man for Auchi and Iraqi funding (whether it came from Saddam, Oil for Food, or General Mediterranean Holdings) over his entire Chicago career?

Rezko had identified Obama as a good political target before he graduated from Harvard Law School. He was both the source of Obama's employment and of his largest political donations during his short political career. Rezko had no financial source apart from Auchi, his partner of over a decade. Rezko was also the source of the financing for Obama's $2.3 million mansion despite his having no clear source of funding apart from Auchi. What did he get from Obama in return?

As the Wall Street Journal showed several weeks ago, Obama has been anything but forthcoming about his real relationship with Rezko and Auchi. And the public has no idea how extensive and how corrupt the network that Auchi has developed across the world is. Let me count the ways: Like organized crime, the network shows no public profile beyond legitimate business activities, and has a small army of lawyers threatening any critics with libel actions in Britain, Auchi's adopted residence where there is no First Amendment protection.

Billionaires can buy anonymity at the same time they buy influence and politicians. In 2000, although Nadhmi Auchi had spent two decades as Saddam Hussein's broker in the international oil and armament worlds, he was seen from the United States as essentially a European go-between, who worked the highest levels of the Italian and particularly the French and British governments. He had bought an aura of respectability by buying senior politicians and favorable press, and threatening any critics, a pattern he had begun to introduce in the United States with British assistance a decade earlier. I first began to fathom the extent of Nadhmi Auchi's reach and corrupting influence when I was given responsibility for monitoring illegal transfers of technology and munitions to Iraq as well as overseeing all coalition transportation and communications reconstruction in Iraq.

My office had two key responsibilities, international technology security and international arms and technology trade (essentially keeping good things out of the hands of bad people), with the latter function given the reach of the DoD Inspector General's office. Our investigations surfaced some salient facts about Nadhmi Auchi and his underreported activities: that Auchi had been Saddam Hussein's senior arms dealer and had morphed into his principal international financial bagman, and had become the Godfather of the UN Oil for Food scheme. (As a former State Department Inspector General overseeing all US foreign assistance and foreign military sales, I had had thirty years experience dealing with technology and armament sales, most of it in the Middle East.). I was therefore startled to also discover in addition that Auchi had surfaced as the financier and a principal beneficiary of the entire Iraqi cellular telecommunications tender, worth some $3 billion.

Through the customary combination of facilitating payments spread among political figures in Iraq and elsewhere, Auchi was able to fix the three contracts for three companies which in turn benefitted three of the most senior Iraqi politicians. $435 million was found missing from the Coalition Provisional Authority communications account along with all records. Multimillion dollar bribes were paid to various Brits and Americans to facilitate both the fix and its cover up.

The official DoD report of May 11, 2004, which Auchi has spent four and a half years trying to discredit, encountered cover up efforts within the DoD. These in turn prompted Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on December 10, 2004 to transfer the case to the Department of Justice to assure the integrity of the continuing investigation. The FBI is still working on the case with the continuing assistance of my office, and Auchi's US visa to come to the United States was cancelled.

The Rezko trial in Chicago, moreover, has highlighted Auchi's reach into other ministries to provide bribes for contracts. In the Ministry of Electricity the Rezko-Auchi combine was seen in action offering million dollar bribes for multi-million dollar contracts to Ayham al-Samarra'i, an Iraqi American who had become Electricity Minister. In addition, recent evidence has surfaced that an Auchi subsidiary, the Iraqi German Hospital (IG Hospital), has been awarded a billion dollar contract at the Ministry of Health thru the influence of Dr. Adel Mohsen, the notoriously corrupt arbiter of health ministry contracting. "Dr. Adel" is close to Prime Minister Maliki and is his point man on the appropriately named Iraqi Committee on Public Integrity. While Auchi was a frequent visitor to the Green Zone in Baghdad during the CPA era, and, according to reliable Iraqi sources, met numerous times with CPA viceroy L. Paul Bremer, that was a useful but temporary expedient. Auchi is now said to be an advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki as well as being the representative of major oil and commercial interests seeking contracts in Iraq. If Auchi now owns Maliki, he now owns everything.

As the above shows, Auchi has parlayed his long time presence on the Iraqi scene into a position of even greater wealth and influence than he enjoyed under Saddam. But it is his skill in buying his way to foreign leaders and funneling that advantage into a position of paramount influence into Iraq that is truly impressive. He simultaneously developed access to the nascent Iraqi leadership in London while he was buying access to the British leadership, and through that got access to US leadership and the Coalition Provisional Authority. It was done largely through lavish donations and largesse to the British establishment over several decades, and to the Labour party in particular. Auchi's purchase of respectability included the grant of a coat of arms from the Queen, and the support of very senior members of the cabinet, some of whom sat on his GMH board. On the 20th anniversary of GMH activities in Britain, Auchi was given a print of the Houses of Parliament signed by virtually everyone with any political pretentions in the House of Commons. His London sponsors then opened the doors to Washington, to the Pentagon and ultimately, to the White House.

But he had bought his way into France as well: As a major arms dealer for Saddam he had cultivated President Mitterand and President Chirac, as well as key members of their cabinets. In September 2003, however, a French court had found him guilty of corruption and of receiving improper commissions of $100 million in the Elf Aquitaine scandal. The trial showed that Auchi had developed direct relationships with the key players in the French political and business establishment, and was the largest single stockholder in the bank BNP Parisbas. He received a slap on the wrist in the form of a multimillion dollar fine and a suspended jail sentence.

By that time, however, he had moved to the US market. Thanks to his British network, he established relationships with Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis I. "Scooter" Libby, and others in the Bush I Department of Defense at the time of the first Gulf War, and deftly carried his insider utility and his reputation of being helpful in Iraq over to the Clinton administration in 1993. He arrived with a laying on of hands from Lord Cavendish, the former head of British intelligence, and soon was a member of the Kennedy School board of Advisors at Harvard. He became, thru charitable donations and investments in the US, largely in the Chicago and Detroit areas, the embodiment of the Good Iraqi and the Good Arab. He established an Auchi chair at the American University of Cairo, and there have been reports that he was a large donor to the Clinton library.

His seemingly innocent investments with Rezko in the Middle West, however, went hand in hand with Rezko's extensive scheme to trade off campaign donations to Illinois politicians for jobs and multimillion dollar state and city contracts. That strategy appears to have tied in as well to Joseph A. Cari, Jr., a Clinton administration official who served as Democratic National Committee Finance Chairman in 1993-94, and who, like Rezko, was found guilty of extortion of Illinois officials in 2006, and similarly is awaiting sentencing. Cari was Clinton's national finance chairman when Rezko and Auchi made their White House visits. Cari is now managing director of a Middle East trade and investment fund in New York. How many of Rezko's donations and US investments originated with and were dependent on Auchi? Is there any evidence that Rezko had any other major source of funding? How long had the Auchi network been in place in Chicago? And what were Auchi's connections to the Iraqi spy ring about to go to trial in Detroit, who in late 2002 paid two Democratic congressmen to go to Iraq and oppose the war, and which flourished on UN Oil for Food vouchers?

So we have a pattern of buying influence which tied directly into the Illinois Democratic Party, the Daley machine, and the Democratic National Finance Committee. It is no wonder that Barack Obama "has no recollection" of being at a welcoming dinner feting Auchi at Rezko's house in April 2004. At that moment Auchi was flying high despite his corruption conviction in France: He was then still the darling of the neocon cabal at the defense department, which was so heavily invested in Iraq. He had been a welcomed guest at two White Houses, and appeared to own the entire Illinois government. We still do not have any sense of the full extent of his influence.

A month later, however, his five year visa to the United States was revoked because of the findings of the DoD report on his central role in fixing the contracts for the entire Iraqi telecommunications system. In the ensuring four and a half years the outlines of his role as an ongoing arms dealer responsible for importing and exporting munitions into and out of Iraq, and as the financial ringmaster of reconstruction corruption in Iraq, have become increasingly evident, despite extensive efforts to cover up his role by Iraq reconstruction authorities and a submissive and buyable media. Auchi simply bought everyone he needed to buy in Iraq and the United States to carry out his Iraq agenda. Before his sentencing at the end of this month, however, Rezko may broaden our understanding of Auchi's larger agenda.

But his underwriting of the purchase of Obama's multimillion dollar Chicago mansion may have been the step too far which finally brought down Auchi's grand scheme of empire and intrigue. It was, however, cheap at the price to buy a putative United States Senator. Nothing boneheaded about that decision at all. What is a candidate worth? This was Chicago, after all. On the other hand, however, if Barack Obama becomes President of the United States, the sky may be the limit for Nadhmi Auchi.

John A. Shaw is a former senior official of the Defense, State, and Commerce departments, and served on several White House staffs. He is a specialist in international technology transfer and arms sales, and in the economic development of the Middle East.

http://wikileaks.org/wiki/From_Baghdad_to_Chicago:_Rezko_and_the_Auchi_empire

 

 

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