Thu, 19 Sep 2019

Bank CEO Charged in Scheme to Win Job in Trump Administration

Voice of America
24 May 2019, 05:05 GMT+10

Federal prosecutors on Thursday unsealed criminal charges against Federal Savings Bank CEO Stephen Calk, accusing him of corruptly approving high-risk loans to U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort in exchange for trying to secure a top job in the Trump administration.

The indictment against Calk, issued in New York, does not name Manafort directly. But the bank executive's name repeatedly came up during Manafort's 2018 financial fraud trial in Virginia in which prosecutors said Calk and Manafort engaged in a scheme to exchange the $16 million in loan approvals for an administration post.

Calk, 54, faces one count of financial institution bribery, which carries a maximum prison term of 30 years.

Federal Savings Bank, based in Chicago, said in a statement it is a victim of bank fraud perpetrated by Manafort. It added that Calk 'has been on a complete leave of absence and has no control over or involvement with the bank' and that the bank is 'not a party to the federal criminal case.' It described Calk as its 'former chairman.'

Calk could not immediately be reached for comment.

He provided Manafort with a ranked wish list of government jobs that he wanted, starting with treasury secretary and followed by other top jobs in the Treasury, Commerce and Defense Departments, prosecutors said. Other possible jobs on his list included 19 ambassador posts in countries including Britain, France, Germany and Italy.

Manafort also used his influence with Trump's post-election transition team before taking office to land Calk a formal interview for the position of under secretary of the U.S. Army in January 2017, though Calk was not selected for the position, according to the indictment.

While Calk never managed to secure a government job, the indictment said Manafort did help Calk land an appointment on a 'prestigious economic advisory committee' affiliated with Trump's campaign.

Manafort was one of the first people in Trump's inner circle to face charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his now-completed investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and Trump campaign contacts with Moscow.

Manafort was convicted of bank and tax fraud in the Virginia trial, and also pleaded guilty to other charges in Washington. He is serving a 7-1/2-year sentence in a federal prison in Pennsylvania.

The prospect of Calk facing charges emerged in a transcript of a bench discussion during the Manafort trial.

'Mr. Calk is a co-conspirator,' Greg Andres, a prosecutor on Mueller’s team, said during a discussion with the judge at the bench, according to a transcript of the discussion. 'And he participated in a conspiracy to defraud the bank.'

'There was an agreement between Mr. Manafort and Mr. Calk to have the loans approved,' Andres said. 'They were approved and, in turn, Mr. Manafort proposed Mr. Calk for certain positions within the administration.'

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