Offbeat Bank CEO wanted Manafort to secure him a Cabinet post in Trump’s administration, witness testifies

02:05  11 august  2018
02:05  11 august  2018 Source:   msn.com

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Aug 10 (Reuters) - The chief executive officer of a small Chicago bank that approved million in loans to former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort was seeking a post in the new administration , a witness testified on Friday in Manafort ' s fraud trial.

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A bank CEO who helped President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort obtain $16 million in loans hoped for a Cabinet-level position in the administration, a bank employee testified in federal court Friday.

The witness, Dennis Raico, was called as a witness after a confusing morning at Manafort’s trial in Alexandria, Va., during which U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III huddled privately with prosecutors and defense attorneys, delaying the start of testimony until midafternoon. A transcript of the those discussions was sealed.

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[Federal judge says special counsel wants Manafort to ‘sing’ about Trump ]. 11:28 a.m.: Banker testifies Manafort also lied about Brooklyn mortgage to get loan. Prosecutors say Manafort fraudulently secured more than million dollars in bank loans by falsely inflating his income and

Paul Manafort , President Trump ’ s onetime campaign chairman, is on trial in federal court in Alexandria on bank and tax fraud charges. 2:45 p.m.: Accountant testifies Manafort made more than million over a decade. All were involved in Manafort ’s efforts to secure loans.

No reason was offered publicly for the delay, but when Raico finally took the stand, he described how the CEO, Steve Calk, was willing to depart from bank policies to approve loans for a friendly and well-connected political operative.

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Raico, a former vice president at Federal Savings Bank, testified with immunity from prosecution for any statements he made as a witness. Prosecutors say Manafort lied to that bank and others to secure millions of dollars in loans in 2016 when his political consulting business had run out of clients willing to pay for his services.

Manafort, 69, has been on trial for two weeks. He faces bank fraud and tax charges. His trial is the first to grow from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into whether any of Trump’s associates conspired with Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

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Raico described how Manafort won approval for loans as part of a process that featured unusual involvement from Calk, the bank’s CEO and chairman. Calk was seeking a role in the Trump administration and sought to make that known to Manafort, Raico testified.

Calk did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort . © Jonathan Ernst/Reuters Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort .

Manafort received two loans from Federal Savings Bank totaling $16 million. One of them, a $9.5 million cash out refinance on a property in Southampton, N.Y., closed Nov. 16, 2016, shortly after the presidential election. The other, a $6.5 million construction takeout loan, closed on Jan. 4, 2017, weeks before Trump’s inauguration, Raico testified.

Raico testified that Manafort reached out to the bank around April 2016, inquiring about a loan for a project he was working on with his son-in-law. Raico said he contacted Calk about Manafort’s interest after learning that he worked in politics.

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Melinda James, a Citizens Bank mortgage loan assistant, testified that Manafort had told the bank that the property would be used as a second residence, but she found it listed as a rental on a real estate website. Energy 202: Trump administration wants to send California firefighters more water.

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“I knew Steve was interested in politics,” he said. Calk, Raico said, wanted to meet the potential client in person.

Raico said that he, Calk, Manafort and others dined together in New York in May 2016, where they discussed politics, loans, and other subjects. At the time, Manafort was working on the Trump campaign. During the dinner, Calk and Manafort also talked between themselves, Raico said.

In July 2016, Raico said he had a video conference with Manafort and Manafort’s son-in-law to discuss properties they wanted to finance. The next day, high level bank officials approved a loan for the two men — a quicker turnaround than Raico had ever seen before, he told the court.

Calk was directly involved in the negotiations, something Raico also had never seen before, he testified. Raico said he sometimes passed messages between Calk and Manafort, which made him uncomfortable.

On Nov. 11, 2016, for example, Raico said Calk called him to say he would “possibly be up for some role in the Trump administration,” and asked Raico if he could inquire about that. The possible roles, Raico said, were Treasury secretary, or as the head of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Both are Cabinet-level posts.

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[Federal judge says special counsel wants Manafort to ‘sing’ about Trump ]. 11:28 a.m.: Banker testifies Manafort also lied about Brooklyn mortgage to get loan. Prosecutors say Manafort fraudulently secured more than million dollars in bank loans by falsely inflating his income and

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Emails show that a few months earlier, Manafort requested Calk’s resume after Calk apparently asked if he could serve in the administration. Calk was named to a panel of Trump’s economic advisers during the campaign, and other evidence introduced in court shows Manafort sought to get Calk’s name on a list of candidates for Army secretary.

Raico told the court he did not tell Manafort about the positions Calk wanted.

“It made me very uncomfortable,” he testified. Raico also told the court that sometime during the loan process, he learned Calk and Manafort had lunch together. After the lunch, Raico said he received an email from Calk, outlining terms for one of Manafort’s loan requests.

But there were problems with the information Manafort was providing to get the loans, Raico testified. “A plus B didn’t equal C all the time,” he told the court.

There was an outstanding credit card bill of more than $200,000 that Manafort said stemmed from having loaned the card to a friend — apparently his business partner Rick Gates — to purchase season tickets for the New York Yankees. A Yankees official would later testify it was Manafort who purchased the tickets, and that the team had no record of Gates having done so.

That wasn’t the only concern.

As they neared closing on the $9.5 million loan, Manafort emailed to say he owed $3.5 million on his home in the Hamptons, when he had previously said it was $2.5 million. The bank had just learned that information on its own.

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This article lists the members of President Donald Trump ' s Cabinet . Trump assumed office on January 20, 2017. The President of the United States has the authority to nominate members of their Cabinet

Those two potential witnesses come from Federal Savings Bank , whose CEO and chairman overlooked Manafort ’ s fraud in hopes of getting a job in the Trump administration , according to prosecutors from the Special Counsel’ s Office.

“I must have had a blackout,” Manafort said in explaining the discrepancy.

Just before the loan was to close, Raico said he was told Manafort had decided he wanted to renegotiate its terms. Instead of a construction loan for a project in California using the Bridgehampton home as collateral, he wanted a cash-out refinance loan on the Hamptons house.

A few days later, Manafort sent Raico a sheet titled “Terms of Loan,” which outlined the $9.5 million line of credit. Raico forwarded the terms to another bank executive with the message, “Take a deep breath.”

Raico testified he “hadn’t seen a loan restructured at the closing table before, and I hadn’t seen Steve Calk approve restructuring of a loan.”

Judge Ellis asked the witness whether there was anything wrong with Manafort dictating the loan’s terms.

“No,” Raico said, but it was not consistent with bank policy.

The exchange was the latest instance in which the judge has expressed skepticism about evidence elicited by prosecutors.

Raico also testified that Manafort sent him a statement showing his profit for 2016 exceeded $3 million — a claim other witnesses have testified was false.

Raico said he was told by bank president Javier Ubarri that they should not pursue a loan agreement with Manafort and his son-in-law. He was instructed to tell Manafort the bank valued his relationship with Calk “immensely” but that the loan was too risky, Raico told the court.

But Raico testified he soon got a call from Calk, saying they were moving forward with a loan to Manafort, which ultimately went through on Manafort’s terms on Nov. 16, 2016.

One of Manafort’s lawyers, Richard Westling, sought to shift the jury’s focus toward the collateral Manafort posted for the loans, which, Raico testified, was sufficient.

Under questioning from Westling, Raico also acknowledged the email between Raico and the bank’s president referenced a different loan — one with Manafort’s son-in-law that was not issued.

Raico said the $9.5 million loan issued to Manafort made him uncomfortable, and Calk’s involvement “was not the norm.”

When the prosecutor and the judge pressed Raico on whether he believed Calk was “seeking something” from Manafort, Raico ultimately hedged, saying he could point to “nothing concrete.”

Mueller’s team had hoped to finish their case Friday, but the delay made that impossible. The prosecutors had asked Ellis to instruct the jury to ignore a comment the judge made Thursday questioning the importance of testimony concerning a bank loan Manafort did not get. But the judge gave no such instruction to the panel Friday.

rachel.weiner@washpost.com

matt.zapotosky@washpost.com

lynh.bui@washpost.com

devlin.barrett@washpost.com

Tom Jackman contributed to this report.

Judge in Manafort trial concedes mistake after berating Mueller’s prosecutors .
T.S. Ellis III’s daily spats with the government’s attorneys subsided Thursday as he asked jury members to ignore his outburst the day prior.U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, a 78-year-old jurist with a reputation for being tough on lawyers in his courtroom, showed none of the temper he’s flashed throughout the trial, now in its second week in Alexandria, Va., and instead instructed the jury to disregard his remarks made the day before excoriating prosecutors for allowing an expert government witness to sit in the courtroom before he testified.

Source: http://us.pressfrom.com/news/offbeat/-175524-bank-ceo-wanted-manafort-to-secure-him-a-cabinet-post-in-trump-s-administration-witness-testifies/

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