23Mar/120

WikiLeaks on the Auchi-Rezko-Blago Connection

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.

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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 They hauled Rezko to jail after his bail was revoked for concealing a $3.5 million Auchi loan from the court.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.

 

18Mar/120

Semir Sirazi vs. Nadhmi Auchi: A Chicago Lawsuit Underway

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:

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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