Banker who OK'd Manafort loan sought Cabinet post: Ex-employee

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Stephen Calk, the chief executive officer of The Federal Savings Bank in Chicago, expedited approval of a mortgage loan to Paul Manafort and wanted the onetime Trump campaign chair to help him get a job as Treasury secretary or housing secretary, a former bank employee testified Friday.

The witness, Dennis Raico, said that the bank took just one day to approve a $9.5 million loan for Manafort that was secured by properties he owned in New York and Virginia. Raico, who testified under a grant of immunity because he feared prosecution, said that in his three years at the bank he had never seen a loan approved so quickly.

The bank also approved a separate $6.5 million loan to Manafort.

On Nov. 11, 2016, after Trump was elected president, Calk called Raico and asked him to pass along a message to Manafort about his interest in a cabinet position, Raico said. Raico didn’t call Manafort, however, because “it made me very uncomfortable,” he said.

Manafort is on trial in Virginia on charges of bank fraud and tax fraud. He has pleaded not guilty. The case is being prosecuted by the office of the special counsel appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Prosecutors allege that Manafort lied about his finances when he was applying for the loans from The Federal Savings Bank. But they have also suggested that Calk granted the loans with the expectation that he would be granted a job in the Trump administration, and that he inquired about being named Army secretary.

For its own part, the $265 million-asset bank has portrayed itself as a victim of Manafort’s fraud, and has stated that it will decline to comment during the trial.

American Banker's Kevin Wack contributed to this story.

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