According to an indictment, Manhattan federal prosecutors are charging banker Stephen Calk with bribing former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, CNN reports. The indictment, unsealed Thursday, alleges that Calk bribed Manafort with $16 million in loans in exchange for a high-ranking position in the administration of now-President Donald Trump.
That position never materialized.
Despite apparent consideration for a number of roles within the Trump administration, none came to fruition for Calk. Roles considered allegedly included secretary of defense, secretary of the army, and secretary of the treasury. However, according to the indictment, he was interviewed for a senior role due to Manafort’s influence.
The bank, Federal Savings Bank located in Chicago, ultimately lost millions of dollars when Manafort defaulted on the loans. Calk was, and remains, the chief executive officer of the bank.
“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,” the indictment reads. “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.”
Calk was released on a $5 million personal recognizance bond after pleading not guilty Thursday afternoon.
Bank CEO Stephen Calk charged with corruptly soliciting a presidential administration position in exchange for approving $16 million in loans https://t.co/AdK8DfKlad
— US Attorney SDNY (@SDNYnews) May 23, 2019
Manafort for his part was not listed by name in the indictment, but he does fit the description of the “borrower” referenced throughout. The borrower is described in the indictment as having been a presidential campaign chairman between June and August of 2016. Additionally, the relationship between Calk and Manafort was initially revealed during Manafort’s trial in Virginia.
Calk appears to have had outsized influence in lending decisions at his bank due to the fact that in addition to serving as CEO, he is also the majority owner of the holding company which owns the bank. He sits personally on the committee that would have approved the type of loan issued to Manafort.
The indictment indicates that the loans were issued despite “significant red flags” in Manafort’s financial history, including a well-documented tendency to default on similar loans. Calk allegedly applied pressure to deliver the loans under the assumption that Manafort could use his influence with the presidential transition team to help land Calk a senior position within the incoming administration.
In addition to the senior administration positions already mentioned, Calk apparently also floated the possibility of a number of desirable ambassadorships.