Bank CEO Charged in Scheme to Win Job in Trump Administration


Prosecutors in that case said while Manafort's loans were pending approval, Calk gave Manafort a ranked list of government positions he wanted, starting with Secretary of the Treasury, followed by Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Commerce and Secretary of Defense, as well as 19 ambassadorships similarly ranked and starting with the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy.

Calk allegedly ended up lending Paul Manafort (perhaps the only man less creditworthy in Trumpworld than the president himself) about $16 million in total from his bank despite loud and widespread concern from his staff and underwriters, got added to Trump's economic "Team of Steves," and interviewed for a few lower-level cabinet gigs, yet failed to land any.

In a statement released late Thursday morning, officials from The Federal Savings Bank where Calk worked said that the bank "is not a party to the federal criminal case in NY involving its former chairman Steve Calk, who has been on a complete leave of absence and has no control over or involvement with the bank".

"Calk went to great lengths to avoid banking violations in an attempt to secure a senior position in a presidential administration", said FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney a statement.

The indictment did not mention Manafort by name, but made clear he was the one who schemed with Calk.

Despite owning well over half of the shares of the bank's holding company, according to the indictment, Calk is no longer running the firm, according to a statement from Federal Savings Bank in response to the federal charge.

Calk was formally interviewed for the post of undersecretary of the US Army in January 2017.

Manafort wrote that the individuals would be "totally reliable and responsive to the Trump White House".

"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", Audrey Strauss, Deputy US Attorney for the Southern District of NY, said Thursday, "namely an appointment as Secretary of the Army or another similarly high-level position in the incoming presidential administration".

Prosecutors said Calk began in July 2016 to exploit his position as head of the bank and its holding company, knowing Manafort urgently needed loans to avoid foreclosure proceedings on multiple properties he and his family owned.

So enamored, in fact, that federal prosecutors are alleging he and Trump campaign chairman turned federal prison inmate Paul Manafort engaged in a little financial fraud roleplay.

The bank closed on the $9.5 million loan later that month, according to the indictment.

"There was an agreement between Mr. Manafort and Mr. Calk to have the loans approved", Andres said. Calk also tried to convince Dennis Raico, a senior VP at the Federal Saving Bank, to call Manafort to ask if Calk was being considered for secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to the Times. Manafort then relayed Calk's "preference" to be named Secretary of the Army.

The banker was game to provide the cash, according to the indictment, because he "believed [Manafort] could use his influence with the presidential transition team to assist Calk in obtaining a senior administration position". According to prosecutors, he was not selected for the role. "Moreover, Mr. Manafort's introduction to the Federal Savings Bank had nothing to do with Mr. Calk". Jurors deadlocked on some charges, including four relating to Federal Savings bank.

Calk did not testify at Manafort's 2018 trial for bank and tax fraud but other officers from his bank took the stand to describe the unusual process by which the bank approved a loan for Manafort. Manafort's efforts landed Calk an interview at the transition team's headquarters in NY.