Chicago banker accused of arranging risky loans to Paul Manafort goes on trial

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Stephen Calk leaves Manhattan Federal Court in New York

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The former chief of a Chicago bank will go on trial on Tuesday on charges he gave millions of dollars of risky loans to Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort in order to win a top post in the former U.S. president's administration.

Stephen Calk, a former chairman and chief executive of Federal Savings Bank, has pleaded not guilty to charges of financial institution bribery and conspiracy for helping arrange $16 million of loans to Manafort that later went into default.

Prosecutors said that after Trump won the 2016 presidential election, Calk sent Manafort a ranked list of 10 positions he wanted, including Treasury secretary, commerce secretary and defense secretary, and a separate list of 19 ambassadorships.

Manafort allegedly recommended to Trump's post-election transition team that Calk, a 16-year Army veteran, be appointed Army secretary, the service's top civilian job.

Calk interviewed in January 2017 for a job as Under Secretary of the Army, but never joined the administration.

U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield in Manhattan will oversee Calk's trial.

The defendant was first charged in May 2019, and faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted on the bribery charge.

Calk's alleged outreach was discussed at Manafort's 2018 trial in Virginia, including accusations that Manafort made false statements to privately held Federal Savings to obtain his loans.

That case originated with former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Manafort was convicted of tax evasion and bank fraud and sentenced to 7-1/2 years in prison, but was later released to home confinement. Trump then pardoned Manafort in December.

At Manafort's trial, a Federal Savings employee testified that Calk had taken a "personal interest" in Manafort's loans, and that he had never seen such loans approved so fast.

The case is U.S. v. Calk, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-cr-00366.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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