NEW YORK – Anna Sorokin, the alleged con artist accused of passing herself off as a wealthy German heiress, spoke "the language" of the financial world and persuaded a New York banker to loan her $100,000 that she never repaid, a witness told a Manhattan jury Thursday.
Banker Ryan Salem detailed a lengthy back-and-forth in which Sorokin lobbied City National Bank for a multimillion-dollar loan to finance a private arts club she purported to be building.
The bank denied that request but, despite a host of red flags, agreed to lend her $100,000 that Sorokin promised to repay within days.
"We always believed that she had money," Salem said, referring to a fortune of some $67 million (60 million euros) that Sorokin claimed to have at her disposal overseas. "She seemed to speak the language. She understood the financial jargon that you need to know to interact and transact in this environment."
The testimony came on the second day of Sorokin's grand larceny and theft of services trial in state court in Manhattan.
Prosecutors say Sorokin bilked friends, banks and hotels to the tune of $275,000 over a 10-month period, living a life of luxury in New York City on swindled funds. Using the name Anna Delvey, she sported high-end clothing and adopted a jet-setting lifestyle that prosecutors said she could not afford.
Her defense attorney has said she never intended to commit a crime.
Jurors viewed dozens of emails Thursday between Salem and Sorokin, who became increasingly hard to pin down when the bank demanded repayment.
Salem, who spent the day on the witness stand, said his dealings with Sorokin hurt his credibility within the bank.
"I went to bat for somebody who at the end of the day was not somebody to go to bat for," he said.