Lawyer claims Trump’s bank job search is not related to Manafort’s loans

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(Bloomberg) – A Chicago banker sued for allegedly swapping $ 16 million in bank loans to Paul Manafort for a chance to rise to a high position in the Trump administration, legitimately believing that they were “good loans” that were in no way connected with his desire to serve his country, the lawyer said.

Manhattan federal prosecutors have argued that Stephen Kolk wanted to be former President Donald Trump’s treasury secretary, defense secretary, or high-ranking ambassador, and to that end approved loans for 2016 and 2017 to Manafort, then Trump’s campaign manager. In the government’s closing argument earlier Monday in a financial institution bribery case, Federal Attorney Paul Monteleoni said Kalk was “hungry for power.”

But Kolk’s lawyer, Paul Schumann, later Monday in his closing defense argument said the banker did not intend to provide loans as payment for helping to secure a high-level administrator position. Sheman also disagreed with Monteleoni’s characterization of Calca’s motivation to find work in the government, stating that he offered himself to work at the highest level, but was most interested in serving in the civilian leadership of the army.

“It’s not about greed for power,” Schumann told the jury. “The point is that ‘I would like to serve as the deputy minister of the army.”

The founder and longtime chief executive of the Federal Savings Bank was interviewed for the position of undersecretary in the military, but was not selected for this or any other position in the Trump administration.

According to prosecutors, Kalk conspired with Manafort, who was “desperate for money” at the time.

“Calca had the money,” Monteleoni said. “What Manafort offered to Kolk was a chance to use some of that money to buy power.”

But Schumann said Kalk believed the loans were reliable based on the information provided. “It’s not true that no one thought they were good loans,” the lawyer told the jury.

According to Schumann, Manafort lied about his finances in order to get loans, and Dennis Raiko, the former head of the Federal Savings Bank, who was about to receive a commission when the loans were paid off, helped in his deception. Schumann called Raiko, one of five bank witnesses who were granted immunity for their testimony against Kolk, “a pathological liar.”

Among the witnesses the prosecution called against Colk was Anthony Scaramucci, founder of Skybridge Capital, who served on Trump’s transition team and then spent 11 days as White House PR director. Scaramucci told the jury that Calc originally aspired to become secretary of the army, but was willing to interview the deputy minister. Scaramucci helped Calc get an interview as a service to Manafort, but said he knew nothing about the loans and that he wouldn’t help Calc if he had.

Monteleoni told the jury that Calc was involved in lending to Manafort to an unusual degree and that the bank officials who screened them had advised against lending to Manafort.

“Calk went deep into this loan,” Monteleoni said. “Kolk met with Manafort and told the loan officer what was happening with the loan, not the other way around.”

The jury began deliberation after Sheman made his closing argument and will continue deliberation on Tuesday.

US v. Kolk, 19-cr-00366, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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