Monday, April 14, 2008

Obama "barely knew Rezko"...HA!

Hey, don't blame me..those were HIS words, not mine.

Rezko Trial Witness Says Obama Attended Party for Auchi at Rezko's Mansion
By Jeralyn, From TalkLeft
Posted on Mon Apr 14, 2008 at 03:50:49 PM EST

There was a surprise at the Tony Rezko trial today. The Government's star cooperating witness, Stuart Levine, said Barack Obama was at a party for Iraqi-born billionaire Nadhmi Auchi at Rezko's house.

Stuart Levine, the prosecution's star witness, said he and Obama were at a party Rezko threw at his Wilmette mansion on April 3, 2004, for Nadhmi Auchi, a controversial Iraqi-born billionaire who Rezko was trying to get to invest in a South Loop real-estate development.

Auchi, now a citizen of the United Kingdom, has faced criminal charges in Europe. He also figured in the revocation of Rezko's bond early this year after attempting to wire him more than $3 million.

... The Rezko party in 2004 was designed to induce Auchi to pour money into the South Loop investment. Obama's presence at the party was not previously known. At the time, Obama was fresh off a surprise win in the Illinois Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and was riding a crest of national publicity.

Background on Auchi and the bond violation is here. [More...]

Obama's spokesman Bill Burton previously has said Obama doesn't recall ever meeting Auchi. They, amay have briefly met as Obama was leaving a meeting at the Four Seasons hotel when he briefly stopped by a private room where Auchi was being honored at an event.

According to ABC News:

In a court hearing in Chicago, prosecutors detailed a $3.5 million wire transfer from a bank in Beirut, Lebanon that they said was moved through a series of accounts until it reached Rezko or some of his relatives who had posted property for his bond.

...According to the court filings, the money came from a company, General Mediterranean, owned by a British-based Iraqi billionaire, Nadhmi Auchi, who was convicted in France on fraud charges.

The filing says when Auchi was unable to obtain a visa to visit the United States in 2005, Rezko intervened and "asked certain Illinois government officials" to appeal the State Department's ruling.

The officials who Rezko approached are not specified. Sen. Obama had just taken office as a U.S. senator in 2005, the same year he sought Rezko's help in the purchase of his home.

Some have questioned whether Rita Rezko got the money to buy the lot next to Obama's home from Auchi.

A company related to Mr Auchi, who has a conviction for corruption in France, registered the loan to Mr Obama's bagman Antoin "Tony" Rezko on May 23 2005. Mr Auchi says the loan, through the Panamanian company Fintrade Services SA, was for $3.5 million.

Three weeks later, Mr Obama bought a house on the city's South Side while Mr Rezko's wife bought the garden plot next door from the same seller on the same day, June 15.

....It is unclear how Mrs Rezko could have afforded the downpayment of $125,000 and a $500,000 mortgage for the original $625,000 purchase of the garden plot at 5050 South Greenwood Ave.

In a sworn statement a year later, Mrs Rezko said she got by on a salary of $37,000 and had $35,000 assets. Mr Rezko told a court he had "no income, negative cash flow, no liquid assets, no unencumbered assets [and] is significantly in arrears on many of his obligations."

Even if she did, it doesn't connect Auchi to Obama. Also, Auchi has plenty of positive commendations.

The biggest problem for me is that the testimony comes from Stuart Levine, whose testimony the Government has purchased with promises of leniency for his own misdeeds.

It was previously reported that details of fundraisers Rezko held at his Williammette Mansion would come up at trial. The fundraiser Rezko held for Obama was in 2003. Did the then-drug addled Levine get his dates and parties mixed up? Wouldn't surprise me.

I continue to believe and want to stress again there is no suggestion here that Obama did anything wrong or illegal in his dealings with Rezko. The issue with respect to Obama is one of judgment.
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