Giannoulias: Questions on bank troubles can wait

Published: 1/29/2010 12:01 AM

Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias refused to provide details Thursday about whether his decisions contributed to his family bank's financial problems, saying five days before the election that those questions can wait for another time.

"If I'm fortunate enough to make it out of the primary, we can have that conversation," the Chicago Democrat told reporters.

In a follow-up interview with The Associated Press, Giannoulias denied he was ducking questions.

He said that because he no longer works for the bank, he doesn't have detailed information about its financial problems and what caused them. He also said he will have no role in family decisions about how to address the bank's problems.

The Giannoulias family owns Broadway Bank, and he was a senior loan officer there before becoming Illinois treasurer three years ago.

Now the bank is in trouble. It has promised state and federal regulators that it will raise new capital, sell troubled assets and improve management. The bank must raise $50 million or more within 90 days.

Giannoulias argues Broadway Bank is no different from hundreds of other small banks around the country that have struggled amid the recession.

But his rivals in the Democratic primary say Broadway is in trouble because of bad loans and putting too much money into a vulnerable real estate market. They argue Giannoulias, as a loan officer, bears some of the responsibility and is now trying to avoid blame.

"The reason that this Broadway Bank story and revelation is of such significance now is because it goes to the heart of matters of job performance and character," Senate candidate David Hoffman said at a news conference.

Giannoulias denies his loan decisions contributed to the bank's problems, calling it a silly political attack. But he wouldn't discuss the issue in detail or provide any documents to support his position.

The Giannoulias family has taken $86 million in dividends and other financial benefits from the bank in recent years. Giannoulias said most of that was done to pay taxes and settle estate matters after his father's death.

But he again declined to provide details or to say whether his family will put money back into the bank.