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Banker convicted of bribery for plot to land Trump administration job

A former Chicago bank executive was convicted Tuesday in a scheme to arrange $16 million in loans for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in exchange for a high-level position in the Trump administration.

Stephen Calk, the former CEO of The Federal Savings Bank, was found guilty of financial institution bribery and conspiracy to commit financial institution bribery after a three-week trial in Manhattan.

“Calk used the federally-insured bank he ran as his personal piggybank to try and buy himself prestige and power,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement. “Today’s verdict sends the message that corruption at the highest levels of federally regulated financial institutions will be prosecuted by this office.”

Calk’s lawyer, Paul Schoeman, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a scheme that stretched from July 2016 to January 2017, Calk worked to approve multiple high-risk loans for Manafort, who urgently needed them to avoid foreclosure on several properties.

While the loans were pending approval, Calk provided Manafort with a ranked list of positions he desired. At the top were the two head positions at the U.S. Treasury, followed by secretary of Commerce and secretary of Defense. The list also included 19 high-level ambassadorships to countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy.

Manafort received three separate Federal Savings Bank loans in December 2016 and January 2017 for homes in New York City, Virginia and the Hamptons, New York.

As part of his efforts to secure Calk a position in the Trump administration, Manafort emailed Calk’s resume to Jared Kushner. Calk eventually got an interview at Trump Tower, but he was never offered any job within the administration.

Calk, 56, faces up to 30 years in prison. His sentencing was set for January 2022.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office charged Manafort with tax evasion and violating federal lobbying laws, among other crimes, for concealing millions of dollars he earned representing pro-Russian political figures in Ukraine.

He was convicted after a jury trial in Alexandria, Virginia, and pleaded guilty to related charges in a separate case in Washington, D.C.

Manafort was sentenced to 7½ years in prison but was pardoned by then-President Donald Trump in December 2020.

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