(Bloomberg) – A Chicago banker on trial for allegedly trading $ 16 million in bank loans to Paul Manafort for the chance of a top position in the Trump administration rightly thought it was it was about “good credits” that were in no way tied to his desire to serve the country, said one defender.
Manhattan prosecutors claim Stephen Calk wanted to become Treasury Secretary, Secretary of Defense or a top ambassador for former President Donald Trump and approved the 2016 and 2017 loans to Manafort, then Trump’s campaign chief, with that goal in mind. In the government’s closing argument on Monday in the case of the bribery of financial institutions, Federal Prosecutor Paul Monteleoni said Calk was “power hungry”.
But Calk’s attorney, Paul Schoeman, said in the defense’s closing argument later Monday that the banker did not intend the loans as payment to help him get a high-level administrative job. Schoeman also disapproved of Monteleoni’s characterization of Kalk’s motivation in finding a job with the government, saying he had proposed for top positions but was most interested in serving in the civilian leadership of the army.
“It’s not about lust for power,” Schoeman told the jury. “It’s about, ‘I want to serve as Undersecretary of State for the Army.'”
The founder and long-time chairman of the Bundessparkasse interviewed for the post of Secretary of State in the Army, but was not selected for that or any other post in the Trump administration.
According to prosecutors, Calk was conspiring with Manafort, who was “desperate for money” at the time.
“Calk was the one with the money,” said Monteleoni. “What Manafort Calk was offering was the chance to use some of that money to buy power.”
But Schoeman said Calk believes the loans are solid based on the information provided to him. “It’s just not true that no one thought these were good loans,” the lawyer told the jury.
According to Schoeman, Manafort lied about his finances to win the loans and was helped in his deception by Dennis Raico, a former manager of the Bundessparkasse, who wanted to win a commission as the loans went through. Schoeman called Raico, one of five bank witnesses granted immunity for testifying against Calk, a “pathological liar.”
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Among the witnesses called on the charges against Calk was Anthony Scaramucci, the founder of Skybridge Capital, who worked on the Trump transition team and who later served as White House communications director 11 days later. Scaramucci told jury that Calk originally tried to become Army Secretary but was ready to interview for the Secretary of State. Scaramucci helped Calk get the interview as a favor for Manafort but said he knew nothing about the loans and would not have helped Calk if he had.
Monteleoni told jurors that Calk was abnormally involved in the Manafort loans and that bank officials who checked them advised against lending Manafort.
“Calk was deep in the weeds on this loan,” said Monteleoni. “Calk met with Manafort and told the loan officer what was going on with the loan, not the other way around.”
The jury began deliberations after Schoeman made his closing argument and will resume Tuesday.
The case is US v Calk, 19-cr-00366, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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