Two mortgage bankers granted immunity in Manafort trial

Judge in trial grants immunity to two employees from Chicago's The Federal Savings Bank

On Monday, the judge overseeing one of the upcoming trials of ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, granted immunity to five witnesses due to testify at the upcoming trial, including two mortgage bankers from Chicago’s The Federal Savings Bank.

During a hearing, U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis granted immunity to five people who will testify at the Virginia-based trial and ordered that their identities be revealed.

The two bankers, Dennis Raico and James Brennan, appear to be employees of The Federal Savings Bank, which gave Manafort $16 million across two mortgage loans shortly after he left the Trump presidential campaign.

According to a LinkedIn profile, Brennan serves as the bank’s vice president commercial and construction loan manager. The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Zoominfo lists Raico as a senior vice president.

On Tuesday, The Federal Savings Bank released a statement saying it will not comment on the proceedings.

“Out of respect for the Court and in the interest of fairness to the parties, The Federal Savings Bank will make no press comments during the pendency of Mr. Manafort's trial. The Federal Savings Bank continues to cooperate with the Special Counsel's Office in its investigation,” the bank said.

Bank founder and CEO Steve Calk served as an economic adviser to the Trump campaign before the election and NBC has previously reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Manafort promised to secure Calk a position in Trump’s administration in exchange for the loans.

According to previous reporting from the Wall Street Journal, that position was secretary of the U.S. Army

From the article: 

The bank’s loans to Mr. Manafort equaled almost 24% of the bank’s reported $67 million of equity capital, according to a federal report. Around the time they were issued, Mr. Calk had expressed interest in becoming Mr. Trump’s Army Secretary, the Journal previously reported, citing three people briefed on the Army interactions.

A veteran whose bank caters to former members of the military, Mr. Calk didn’t get the job, and previously declined to comment on it.

Mr. Calk has previously said that the loans to Mr. Manafort were standard with more than sufficient collateral.

Last year, Manafort was charged with laundering millions of dollars in foreign money through U.S. real estate among many other charges relating to his work for foreign governments.

At the time, Mueller’s team detailed how Manafort worked with an aide, Richard Gates, to misrepresent the nature of his income and the planned usage of the properties to obtain millions of dollars in mortgages.

When Mueller’s team initially announced charges against Manafort and Gates, the allegations dealt mainly with Manafort and Gates’ alleged conduct surrounding the handling and use of foreign money.

Then, in February, Mueller accused Manafort of committing a “series of false and fraudulent representations” to obtain a $9 million-plus mortgage from The Federal Savings Bank. Manafort and Gates face nine separate bank fraud charges relating to alleged misrepresentations made to several different lenders in order to defraud the financial institutions of $20 million total. 

According to the indictment, between approximately 2015 and at least January 2017, “Manafort, with the assistance of Gates, extracted money from Manafort’s United States real estate by, among other things, using those properties as collateral to obtain loans from multiple financial institutions. Manafort and Gates fraudulently secured more than $20 million in loans by falsely inflating Manafort’s and his company’s income and by failing to disclose existing debt in order to qualify for the loans.”

Manafort’s trial is due to start on July 31.

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