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Bank loans loom as issue in closing days of Illinois Senate race

Foe pounds Giannoulias on controversial loans

BY ABDON M. PALLASCH

Chicago Sun-Times Political Reporter

Is state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias’ family bank, Broadway Bank, just another community bank suffering in a recession as Giannoulias says?

David Hoffman, a rival for U.S. Senate, says “No.”

Broadway Bank had to enter a consent decree with federal and state regulators because its assets fell so short of its unpaid loans.

“Broadway Bank acted in a very different fashion than just about every other community bank in Illinois,” Hoffman said. “It is simply not true that many other community banks were handing out loans in a high-risk way to Tony Rezko and convicted mobsters.”

Since his controversial loans as Broadway’s vice president surfaced in his race for treasurer four years ago, Giannoulias has maintained that he simply used the same criteria other banks use in assessing a loan: an applicant’s credit history, the value of the land they want to buy and ability to pay off a loan.

“If you go to a large bank like the Bank of America or the Northern Trust, you will find not hundreds but thousands of people with felonies or misdemeanors in their past but who make their loan payments on time,” Giannoulias earlier told the Sun-Times editorial board. Those banks also gave loans to convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko, he said.

It was never standard procedure to do criminal background checks on customers, Giannoulias said, though he admitted, “If I knew then what I know now, obviously we wouldn’t have made those loans.”