FBI Investigating Obama House Deal

A FORMER ILLINOIS REAL ESTATE specialist says FBI agents have questioned him about a Chicago property that had been bought by convicted felon Tony Rezko's wife and later sold to the couple's next-door neighbor, Sen. Barack Obama.

The real estate specialist, Kenneth J. Conner, said bank officials replaced an appraisal review he prepared on the property and FBI agents were investigating in late 2007 whether the Rezko-Obama deal was proper.

“Agents and I talked about payoff, bribe, kickback for a long time, though it took them only a short number of minutes of talking with me while looking at the appraisal to acknowledge what they already seemed to know: The Rezko lot was grossly overvalued,” Mr. Conner told The Washington Times Monday.

“Rezko paid the asking price on the same day Obama paid $300,000 less than the asking price to the same seller for his adjacent mansion,” he said. “This begs the question of payoff, bribe, kickback.”

In a wrongful-termination complaint filed last month in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Mr. Conner said his appraisal of the Rezko property, held in Rita Malki Rezko's name, was replaced with a higher one and he was fired when he questioned the document.

Mr. Conner, a former real estate and commercial credit analyst at Mutual Bank Corp. in Chicago, noted in the complaint that the bank received a grand jury subpoena in October 2006 requiring it to produce information concerning Mrs. Rezko's purchase, including the bank's files on the property.

The complaint also said the grand jury wanted information on Mrs. Rezko's checking account and loan file and whether the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) had audited the Rezko file.

It said Mutual Bank officials could be guilty of making false statements, willfully overvaluing property, bank fraud, witness retaliation, willful violation of a lawful subpoena, FDIC violations, and state banking regulations. The FBI has declined comment on the Rezko investigation, although it is known that Rezko is cooperating with authorities as the probe continues.

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