Banker charged for allegedly bribing Manafort to get job

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Calk "abused the power entrusted to him as the top official of a federally insured bank by approving millions of dollars in high-risk loans in an effort to secure a personal benefit, namely an appointment as Secretary of the Army or another similarly high-level position", said Audrey Strauss, the top prosecutor overseeing the case in Manhattan.

Prosecutors said Calk began in July 2016 to exploit his position as head of the bank and its holding company, knowing Manafort urgently needed loans to avoid foreclosure proceedings on multiple properties he and his family owned. "Moreover, Mr. Manafort's introduction to the Federal Savings Bank had nothing to do with Mr. Calk".

The indictment did not mention Manafort by name, but made clear he was the one who schemed with Calk.

In this June 28, 2012 photo, Stephen M. Calk, Chairman and Chief Financial Official of The Federal Savings Bank speaks as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel listens during an announcement about job growth and economic development and a corporate headquarters relocation by the Federal Savings Bank to Chicago. Calk charged in NY with issuing loans to win a role in President Donald Trump's administration has pleaded not guilty.

Calk is charged with one count of financial institution bribery, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Later that year, though Manafort had been removed in any formal capacity from Trump's team, Manafort nonetheless used his influence to secure an interview for Calk to be undersecretary of the Army in the Trump administration, according to the indictment.

Calk provided Manafort with a ranked wish list of government jobs, and Manafort recommended to Trump's post-election transition team before he became president that Calk be appointed as Army secretary, the service's top civilian post, according to the indictment.

"Calk's alleged attempt to obtain such an appointment was unsuccessful, and the loans he approved were ultimately downgraded by the bank's primary regulator". By August, Calk was named to a campaign economic advisory committee, "consistent" with Calk's "request" to "participate in the Presidential campaign", according to prosecutors.

Calk could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Manafort wrote that the individuals would be "totally reliable and responsive to the Trump White House".

In addition, in order to enable the bank to issue the loans without violating legal limits on lending to a single borrower, Calk authorized a maneuver never before done by the bank, using the holding company - which Calk also controlled - to acquire a portion of the loans from the bank, prosecutors said. Federal Savings Bank is based in Chicago.

After Trump took office, Manafort was able to get Calk an interview for a position as secretary of the Army, though he was ultimately not selected.

According to Calk's indictment, Manafort took a break from his duties running Trump's campaign on July 27, 2016, to attend an initial meeting in NY with a loan officer to discuss a multimillion-dollar loan.

Bank employees raised concerns about the loan, including that they could not verify Manafort's income and that he was delinquent on a $300,000 credit card bill, according to the indictment. In late 2016, after Trump had been elected and as Manafort sought a second set of loans, Calk caused the bank to reverse its decision to decline to underwrite a restructured $9.5 million loan and approve the full loan amount for Manafort.

Manafort was convicted at trial and later pleaded guilty to additional charges, including acting as an unregistered foreign agent while working for a Ukrainian politician before joining Trump's campaign. "Indeed, the special counsel and a federal judge have determined that the Federal Savings Bank was a victim of Mr. Manafort's crimes".

Stephen Calk, CEO of The Federal Bank of Chicago, leaves Manhattan Federal Court in NY, U.S., May 23, 2019.

The transition official was not identified in the indictment, but emails produced as evidence in Manafort's fraud trial a year ago showed it was Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner. Calk lied to regulators about the Manafort loans and falsely told them that he had never desired a position in the Trump administration, the US said.

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