Late last week, Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller accused Paul Manafort, who served as President Donald Trump’s campaign manager for five months in 2016, of committing a “series of false and fraudulent representations” to obtain a $9+ million mortgage from The Federal Savings Bank, a privately held bank in Chicago that focuses on mortgage lending.
Now, it appears that the nature of those misrepresentations is coming into focus.
NBC News reported Wednesday that Mueller’s team is investigating whether Manafort promised a White House job to Stephen Calk, the CEO of The Federal Savings Bank, to get Calk to approve the mortgage in question.
According to the NBC report, the probe is actually looking into $16 million in loans that Manafort received from Federal Savings Bank in December 2016 and January 2017.
From the NBC report:
Federal investigators are probing whether former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort promised a Chicago banker a job in the Trump White House in return for $16 million in home loans, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told NBC News.
Manafort received three separate loans in December 2016 and January 2017 from Federal Savings Bank for homes in New York City and the Hamptons.
The banker, Stephen Calk, president of the Federal Savings Bank, was announced as a member of candidate Trump's Council of Economic Advisers in August 2016.
Special counsel Robert Mueller's team is now investigating whether there was a quid pro quo agreement between Manafort and Calk. Manafort left the Trump campaign in August 2016 after the millions he had earned working for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine drew media scrutiny. Calk did not receive a job in President Donald Trump's cabinet.
Mueller’s allegations about Manafort’s mortgage lies come from a filing in Manafort’s case. According to the court filing, linked here courtesy of Politico, Manafort is attempting to secure a $10 million bond using properties he supposedly owns as collateral.
But Mueller’s team alleges that the properties Manafort wants to use are not as free and clear as Manafort represents them to be.
Manafort is also accused of overstating the income of one of his businesses as a means to garner approval for one of those mortgages.
From Mueller’s filing:
Further, the proposed package is deficient in the government’s view, in light of additional criminal conduct that we have learned since the Court’s 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. 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. 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.
The news of The Federal Savings Bank’s involvement in the Manafort mess isn’t new.
Last March, the Chicago Tribune reported that the bank was in hot water over the loans issued to Manafort.
From the Chicago Tribune report:
The Federal Savings Bank, whose chief executive was an economic adviser to Trump's presidential campaign, made about $6.5 million in loans in January to Manafort and his wife for a Brooklyn property, documents show.
That came only about a month after Federal Savings lent $9.5 million to Summerbreeze, a limited liability company connected to Manafort, according to 377 Union, a website named for the address of the Manafort property in Brooklyn.
The combined $16 million in loans represents a significant piece of business for privately held Federal Savings, whose stated goal is to expand home ownership in America.
Bank regulators frown on "concentration" — when too many loans are made to certain borrowers or to specific industries, such as commercial real estate.
That eventually led to further investigation by Mueller’s team, which wants to know what exactly Manafort told The Federal Savings Bank to get those loans.