U.S. arrests banker for Trump administration job bribe

Paul Manafort President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman

Paul Manafort President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman

Calk, 54, allegedly committed the crime beginning in mid-2016 while working as CEO of Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, a lender he founded.

Stephen Calk, a former economic adviser to President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, was indicted Thursday for allegedly approving $16 million in loans to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in exchange for his help seeking a top post in the administration.

Chicago banker Stephen Calk was charged with bribery on Thursday, the US Attorney's Office in the Southern District of NY announced in a statement.

Calk, who lives in Chicago where The Federal Savings Bank is headquartered, was told by Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman to have no contact with bank employees except for his brother until prosecutors next week submit a list of individuals he can not communicate with.

At the time, Manafort was in severe financial straits, due to other loans he had a secured - some of them fraudulently - and his penchant for a extravagant lifestyle, even as his income from his Ukraine consulting work had dried up.

According to trial evidence, Manafort passed along Calk's resume to Kushner in a November 30, 2016, email, along with two other names of people he said "should be a part of the Trump administration".

FILE PHOTO: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort departs a motions hearing in the indictment filed against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., April 4, 2018.

Strauss said that 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 in the incoming presidential administration".

He ultimately was interviewed as a candidate for undersecretary of the Army but didn't get the job, prosecutors said. Other members of the committee included Steven Mnuchin, later named treasury secretary, and Wilbur Ross, later named commerce secretary.

Calk could not be immediately reached for comment.

The bank says Calk's on a leave of absence with no involvement with the bank.

Manafort briefly served as the chairman of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

The relationship didn't work out as either party planned. About three weeks after Trump's election, Manafort sent Calk's request for a job to a senior transition official, who forwarded it to three other transition representatives with a recommendation to consider Calk, according to the indictment.

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said the story proves that alleged fraud and bribery won't succeed.

The indictment charges Calk with later making "false and misleading statements" to bank regulators at the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency about the loans, specifically telling them that "he had never desired a position in the presidential administration".

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.

"His attempt at petitioning for political favors was unsuccessful in more ways than one - he didn't get the job he wanted, and he compromised the one he had", Sweeney added.

Responded Margolis, Calk's lawyer: "After the election, Mr. Calk felt the call to serve his country once again and offered his vast business and military experience to the new administration".

In Manafort's trial last August, a witness testified that Calk expedited approval of two loans to Manafort despite red flags raised by his staff about Manafort's ability to repay. The bank ultimately lost more than $12 million on the deals, according to the indictment.

Manafort was convicted of tax and bank fraud in a trial in Alexandria, Virginia.

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