Justice Dept: banker gave loans to gain Trump admin post

New York (AFP) –


A US banker was charged Thursday with approving millions of dollars in loans to President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort in expectation of getting a top level position in the new administration.

Stephen Calk, the chairman of Chicago-based Federal Savings Bank, overturned resistance in his bank to lending $16 million to Manafort, who at the time in late 2016 faced losing valuable properties to foreclosure if he could not come up with new financing.

In exchange, Calk detailed his preferred positions in the Trump cabinet in emails to Manafort, including Treasury secretary, Defense secretary, and secretary of the Army.

If not any of those jobs, Calk told Manafort, he could accept an ambassadorship, listing by order of preference the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy.

Calk was charged with one count of financial institution bribery, which can bring a maximum 30 years in prison.

The indictment said that Manafort, who continued to advise the Trump campaign after stepping down as chairman in August 2016, recommended Calk to a senior member of Trump's transition team that November.

The transition official was not identified in the indictment, but emails produced as evidence in Manafort's fraud trial last year showed it was Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.

In one November 30, 2016 email, Manafort proposed to Kushner that Calk be made Army secretary, stressing his loyalty and advocacy for the incoming president.

Calk and two others being suggested for jobs by Manafort would advance Trump's agenda, he wrote, and "will be totally reliable and responsive to the Trump White House."

Kushner replied the same day : "On it!"

Calk was eventually interviewed to be deputy secretary of the army, but did not get the job.

In late 2017, Manafort was arrested and charged with multiple counts of bank and tax fraud and money laundering, as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of the Trump campaign and Russian election meddling.

That case exposed his relationship with Calk and the Federal Savings Bank, leading to Thursday's charges.

Manafort was eventually sentenced to 90 months in prison in two separate court cases.