Banker charged for allegedly approving Manafort loans for Trump job

The former CEO of a bank has been charged with allegedly approving millions of dollars in loans for former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortFBI, warned early and often that Manafort file might be fake, used it anyway FBI, warned early and often that Manafort file might be fake, used it anyway Justice Department intervenes, keeps Manafort from being sent to Rikers Island: report MORE in exchange for getting a position in the Trump administration.

Federal prosecutors in New York on Thursday unveiled an indictment against Stephen Calk, a Chicago banker and founder of Federal Savings Bank, which approved $16 million in loans to Manafort.

“As alleged, Stephen M. 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," acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement.

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"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. Thanks to the outstanding work of the FBI and FDIC OIG [Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General], Calk’s alleged corrupt scheme has now resulted in a federal criminal charge.”

The charges stem from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE's sprawling investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Calk's former bank has an office in New York, where prosecutors announced the indictment.

Calk faces one count of financial institution bribery for allegedly issuing the high-risk loans to Manafort in exchange for a Trump administration job, which he did not end up getting. The count carries a maximum 30-year sentence. Calk was slated to appear before a judge later Thursday.

“Mr. Calk has done nothing wrong and will be exonerated at trial of the baseless isolated charge brought against him,” Calk's attorney Jeremy Margolis said in a statement to The Hill, characterizing the bank’s loans to Manafort as “good loans.”

He maintained that the loans "had nothing whatsoever to do with Mr. Calk’s desire to serve" in the Trump administration.

"The charges brought today are a travesty," Margolis said. "Mr. Calk and his bank were victims of Mr. Manafort’s ongoing fraud; Mr. Calk did not commit any offense with him."

In late November 2016, following Trump's electoral win and days after the bank closed on a $9.5 million loan for Manafort and was mulling a request for $6.5 million more, Calk allegedly emailed Manafort about his interest in a job.

The banker sent him a document titled "Stephen M. Calk Perspective Rolls [sic] in the [Presidential] Administration.docx," with secretary of the Army "listed as the first choice," the indictment released Thursday states.

Calk interviewed for the Under Secretary of the Army position in early January 2017, weeks before Trump entered office, by three representatives of the presidential transition team in Manhattan. He was not ultimately selected.

Prosecutors said that Calk was aware of "significant red flags" in Manafort's ability to repay the loans and that they made the bank's relationship with him "the single largest lending relationship at the bank."

The indictment does not directly mention Manafort by name, but notes that from June 2016 through August 2016 the borrower "served as chairman of the Presidential Campaign."

Federal Savings Bank underscored that it was not mentioned in the indictment Thursday and said in a statement that Calk "has been on a complete leave of absence and has no control over or involvement with the bank."

"Further, there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of the bank.  Indeed, the Special Counsel and a federal judge have determined that The Federal Savings Bank was a victim of Mr. Manafort’s crimes," the bank said.

Manafort was sentenced earlier this year to more than 7 years in prison over conspiracy charges and his conviction on eight criminal charges related to foreign lobbying efforts uncovered during the Russia probe. Manafort was convicted of tax and bank fraud as part of his trial in Virginia.

– Rachel Frazin contributed reporting

Updated: 12:32 p.m.