Stephen Calk, a former economic adviser to President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, was indicted Thursday for allegedly approving $16 million in loans to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in exchange for his help seeking a top post in the administration.
Calk, the founder of mortgage lender Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, illegally used the bank’s resources to curry favor with Manafort, ignoring internal standards and lying to regulators, according to the indictment unsealed in the Southern District of New York.
Calk gave Manafort a list ranking the administrative jobs he wanted starting with treasury secretary, the indictment alleges. The list also included 19 ambassadorships, including the United Kingdom, according to the indictment.
He ultimately was interviewed as a candidate for undersecretary of the Army but didn’t get the job, prosecutors said.
“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,” acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement.
Manafort was not named in the indictment, but the description of the borrower in the court filing matches that of the former Trump campaign chairman.
The indictment is a reminder of the financial crush that was facing Manafort during the same months when he was working as Trump’s campaign chairman, a job he won in part by arguing to Trump that he was independently wealthy and thus able to work for free.
At Manafort’s trial last year, prosecutors presented evidence that he was in fact swimming in debt while working for the campaign and struggling to juggle mortgages on several pricey properties.
According to Calk’s indictment, Manafort took a break from his duties running Trump’s campaign on July 27, 2016, to attend an initial meeting in New York with a loan officer to discuss a multimillion dollar loan. Calk joined by video and, according to prosecutors, told Manafort he would be interested in work on Trump’s campaign. That same day in Florida, Trump asked at a news conference if Russia could locate deleted emails belong to his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
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 was convicted at trial and later pleaded guilty to additional charges, including acting as an unregistered foreign agent while working for a Ukrainian politician before joining Trump’s campaign.
He is now serving a 7½ year prison sentence. He began cooperating with authorities after his guilty plea. Prosecutors have told a judge that he provided evidence both to the special counsel’s investigation and to matters being handled by other prosecutors. References to those other investigations have been redacted from documents filed so far in Manafort’s case but it is likely that Manafort provided evidence in Calk’s case.
Calk faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the charge of financial institution bribery.