Mueller Eyes Sketchy Loans Manafort Got From Bank Of Trump Campaign Advisor

Douliery Olivier/Sipa USA USA

Loans amounting up to $16 million that Paul Manafort received from a bank run by a Trump campaign economic adviser are getting scrutiny from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is interested in whether Manafort promised the banker a White House job in exchange for the loans, NBC News reported Wednesday.

The banker, Steve Calk, president of Federal Savings Bank in Chicago, sat on the Trump campaign’s economic advisory council — a position that was announced in August 2016, while Manafort was chairman of the campaign. Manafort was ousted from the campaign not long after.  He and his wife went on to secure three separate loans from the bank in late 2016 and early 2017.

References to those loans have popped up in recent court filings related to the negotiations over Manafort’s bail proposal, which involves properties he had put up as collateral for the FSB loans. The filings, coupled with NBC News’ recent reporting, suggest that Mueller is digging deeper into aspects of Manafort’s personal finances—and one of his key lenders— that to this point have been peripheral to the main case.

“The government has secured substantial evidence that Manafort secured this mortgage from The Federal Savings Bank through a series of false and fraudulent representations to The Federal Savings Bank,” Mueller said in a filing last week.

NBC News, citing two sources, said that federal investigators are investigating a possible “quid pro quo” deal between Manafort and Calk, including an offer of a White House gig. Calk did not ultimately get a job in the current administration. His spokesman did not return NBC News’ inquiries, nor did the bank’s PR firm.

Three sources told NBC News that other bank employees were skeptical of the loans to Manafort, and one source revealed that investigators have gotten at least one former employee to cooperate with the probe.

The White House did not comment to NBC News on whether Manafort had sought a position in Trump’s cabinet for Calk. Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni pointed NBC News to a previous statement he gave on Manafort’s loans.

Scrutiny of the loans began last year as the various investigations into Manafort’s finances were heating up. As other outlets noted at the time, the $16 million in loans were huge for a bank of such a relatively small size. They amounted to nearly 24 percent of the bank’s reported $67 million of equity capital and 5.4 percent of the bank’s total assets.

In July, it was reported that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance had subpoenaed the bank for records related to the Manafort loans.

In late October — right after Mueller dropped an indictment charging Manafort with various financial crimes, among other things —  a local Chicago CBS affiliate reported that Calk was speaking to the FBI.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which also include failure to disclose foreign lobbying.

In filings with the FDIC that were posted publicly in late January, the bank reported a $12 million loss in the 4th quarter of 2017. It was not explicitly clear whether the loss was related to the loans to Manafort. The loss is listed as being off of “commercial and industrial loans.”

Meanwhile, the negotiations around Manafort’s proposed bail package have dragged on, with much of the back-and-forth taking place under seal. Some of the related filings were unsealed on Friday.

In them, Mueller argued that Manafort’s bail proposal is “deficient” due to “additional criminal conduct” prosecutors have learned of since the initial bail determination.

“That criminal conduct includes a series of bank frauds and bank fraud conspiracies, including criminal conduct relating to the mortgage on the Fairfax property, which Manafort seeks to pledge,” Mueller said, adding that Manafort secured the mortgage through a “a series of false and fraudulent representations” to Federal Savings Bank.

“For example, Manafort provided the bank with doctored profit and loss statements for DMP International LLC for both 2015 and 2016, overstating its income by millions of dollars. At the next bail hearing, we can proffer to the Court additional evidence related to this and the other bank frauds and conspiracies,” Mueller said.

 

 

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