Law & the Courts

Bank CEO Charged with Bribing Manafort to Obtain Position in Trump Administration

Paul Manafort (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Federal authorities on Thursday unsealed the indictment of a Chicago bank executive charged with bribing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort for a position in President Trump’s administration.

Stephen Calk, the 54-year-old founder and CEO of Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, is accused of attempting to leverage about $16 million in high-risk loans to Manafort to obtain a position in the Trump administration. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Manafort, notorious for his lavish lifestyle, took out the three loans from Calk’s bank in December 2016 and January 2017 to finance mortgages on homes in New York City, Virginia, and the Hamptons, all of which he ultimately defaulted on. The loans originally came to light during Manafort’s Virginia trial on 15 counts of financial crimes. In that trial, he was ultimately convicted of bank and tax fraud and failure to disclose a foreign bank account, and sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison.

Calk was appointed to the Trump campaign’s Economic Advisory Council in August 2016, while discussions around whether to extend Manafort massive loans were ongoing. Months later, in November 2016 after Trump won the White House, Manafort emailed Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, asking that Calk be considered for Army secretary.

“Mr. Calk willingly risked his national professional and personal reputation as an active, vocal, early supporter of President-Elect Trump,” Manafort wrote to Kushner.

Kushner responded “On it!” and forwarded the recommendation to three Trump transition officials with a request that Calk be considered.

Manafort also set up Calk’s January 2017 interview with the Trump transition team for the Army’s No. 2 position in January 2017.

Prosecutors said Calk had sent Manafort a list of other positions he would accept, including treasury secretary, commerce secretary, defense secretary, and 19 ambassadorships including those to the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy.

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