Banking

Bank CEO sought meeting with Trump while eyeing job, prosecutors say

New details have emerged about the efforts by a bank CEO to land a high-ranking job in the Trump administration as part of an alleged bribery scheme involving Paul Manafort.

Stephen Calk, former CEO of The Federal Savings Bank, unsuccessfully sought a meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump in December 2016 while angling for the secretary of the Army job, prosecutors said in a new court filing.

Federal prosecutors also alleged a closer link than they had previously described between Trump’s surprise electoral victory over Hillary Clinton and the Chicago-based bank’s decision to extend credit to Manafort.

While The Federal Savings Bank in Chicago was considering a mortgage loan to Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort (left) in 2016, then-CEO Steve Calk asked a loan officer to ask Manafort whether Calk was in consideration for senior administration jobs, prosecutors allege. The loan officer didn’t carry out the request, but less than a week later Calk and Manafort spoke on the phone for 18 minutes, according to a court filing.

Calk is scheduled to face trial on June 22 in connection with two mortgage loans totaling $16 million that Federal Savings made to Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign chairman during his first run for president. Calk has pleaded not guilty.

The onetime CEO is accused of greenlighting the loans to Manafort in return for assistance in snagging a senior role in the Trump administration. Federal prosecutors in New York, who brought the criminal case in 2019, filed a superseding indictment on Thursday.

It states that less than three weeks before Election Day, Calk and another executive at the bank decided to reject a proposed multimillion-dollar loan to Manafort. But almost immediately after Trump’s victory, Calk allegedly reversed course and caused the bank to approve the loan.

While the bank’s consideration of the loan was still pending, Calk asked a loan officer at the bank to call Manafort and ask whether the bank CEO was in consideration for Treasury secretary or other senior administration jobs, prosecutors allege.

The loan officer did not carry out the request, but less than a week later, Calk and Manafort spoke on the phone for 18 minutes, according to the court document, which does not include information about what was discussed.

After Calk emailed Manafort the following month about potentially meeting with Trump, the political operative told him that the president-elect was not taking such meetings while traveling, according to prosecutors.

Manafort and representatives of the bank signed the final loan documents on Jan. 4, 2017, and about a week later, Calk interviewed with members of the presidential transition team for the under secretary of the Army job, prosecutors allege. Ultimately, Calk did not get a job in the Trump administration.

Calk departed as chairman and CEO of The Federal Savings Bank, a $1.4 billion-asset institution that specializes in mortgage lending around the time he was indicted.

By then, Manafort had been charged criminally, and the federal government sought the forfeiture of his interests in the properties securing the two loans, according to the indictment. The bank and its holding company have allegedly written off over $12 million as a loss.

In 2018, Manafort was convicted on financial fraud charges following a trial that included testimony about his dealings with The Federal Savings Bank. He was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, but President Trump pardoned him in December 2020.



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