AP: The probe finds evidence of the bank chief’s love affair with the best helper

MIAMI (AP) – Investigators say they have found evidence that a former Trump official at the head of Latin America’s largest development bank had a romantic relationship with his chief of staff, a bond they allegedly formed in a pact scribbled on the back of a restaurant placemat: “We deserve absolute happiness”.

The Associated Press obtained a confidential report from a law firm hired by the Inter-American Development Bank board to investigate an anonymous misconduct complaint against its president, Mauricio Claver-Carone.

Investigators said it is reasonable to conclude that the relationship between the two has existed since at least 2019, when they both held senior positions on the National Security Council. They said the alleged relationship prompted a US official at the time to warn that it posed a counterintelligence risk.

Attachment A in the 21-page report is a “contract” the two allegedly drafted on the back of an American placemat in the summer of 2019 while dining at a steakhouse in Medellin, Colombia. Both were present at the annual meeting of the Organization of American States.

In it, they would outline a timeline for divorcing spouses and getting married. There is also a “violation clause” stating that any failure to comply with the terms would lead to “sadness and heartbreak” which could only be mitigated by “candle wax and a bad box” from an oceanfront hotel in native Miami. by Claver-Carone.

“We deserve absolute happiness. May only God part with this deal, “according to the contract, a photo of which was provided to investigators by the woman’s ex-husband, who told investigators he found the placemat in the bag when she returned from the trip.

The alleged contract is one of many details in the relationship that sees Claver-Carone struggling to save his job. They include accusations that he had a meeting in a hotel room at 1:00 am with her chief of staff, that he sent her a poem on a Sunday morning entitled “My soul is in a hurry” and – perhaps most troubling – granted her a 40% salary increase in violation of the bank’s conflict of interest policies.

Claver-Carone contested the accuracy of the report, strongly denouncing the way the review was conducted and offering no clue that he is considering resigning.

According to investigators, she denied ever having – now or before – a romantic relationship with her longtime right hand.

His chief of staff denied the allegations in the anonymous complaint and told investigators he never violated the IDB’s code of ethics, the report said. In a memorandum written to the investigators, she also complained that she had been denied due process.

The PA does not name Claver-Carone’s aide because the report, which is labeled “confidential”, has not been made public.

“Neither I nor any other IDB staff member was given the opportunity to review the final investigative report, respond to its findings or correct inaccuracies,” Claver-Carone said in a statement. Tuesday.

The findings recall allegations of ethical errors against another Republican at the head of a multilateral institution, former Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who stepped down as head of the World Bank in 2007 for organizing a generous pay raise for the his girlfriend.

The Inter-American Development Bank is the largest multilateral lender to Latin America, disbursing up to $ 23 billion annually in efforts to alleviate poverty in the region.

Representatives of the bank’s 48 members met on Wednesday to discuss the report, but it was unclear what action, if any, they could take.

The United States is the largest shareholder in the Washington-based bank, and some in the White House have made no secret of their dislike of Claver-Carone, whose election to head the IDB in the final months of the Trump presidency broke with the tradition that a Latin American run the bank.

A spokesperson for the US Treasury Department said it is closely examining the report and takes all ethics allegations against international financial institutions seriously.

The Biden-Harris administration is committed to the IDB’s mission to address the most pressing issues in Latin America and the Caribbean and to build a sustainable, resilient and equitable future for people across our region. “

Some of the more salacious claims referenced in the report cannot be confirmed by Davis Polk, based in New York. The law firm also found no evidence that Claver-Carone knowingly violated the bank’s travel policies to cover a romantic relationship, or retaliated against bank employees, as stated in an anonymous complaint sent to the board in March. administration of the bank.

However, Davis Polk harshly criticized Claver-Carone and her chief of staff for not cooperating fully with their investigation, considering it a violation of the bank’s policies and principles.

For example, the report stated that Claver-Carone had not handed over the cell phone issued by the bank for analysis, although it had provided a forensic report conducted by a consultant. Claver-Carone also did not share messages from her personal phone or Gmail account with her chief of staff, the report said.

“Particularly in light of their non-cooperation, it would be reasonable to conclude that evidence of a prior relationship, and additional circumstantial evidence of an ongoing relationship while both were at the Bank, constitute a violation of applicable Bank policies,” the report said.

Davis Polk’s report states that Claver-Carone increased his aide’s pay by 40% within a year. He said that one of the raises and a title change was ordered by Claver-Carone the day after an email exchange in which he complained that he didn’t get enough respect from his colleagues.

“You understand that. It’s your bank, ”she wrote, according to the report.

Davis Polk, who also conducted the investigation that led to Andrew Cuomo’s resignation as governor of New York, blamed Claver-Carone for making business decisions about someone he is believed to have been romantically involved with. However, he said other executives have received similarly sized increases and his chief of staff’s current salary of $ 420,000 is in line with his predecessor’s compensation.

Claver-Carone, confronted with photographs of the placemat’s alleged “contract” during an interview this month, told investigators he had never seen the document and denied it was his handwriting or signature. He claimed the document was fraudulent and was part of his aide’s ex-husband’s plan to harm her.

In a letter to the bank’s general counsel, seen by AP, the chief of staff’s divorce attorneys claimed that her ex-husband had a history of cruelty and revenge that was raised in divorce proceedings. They said any evidence you provided to investigators shouldn’t be considered credible.

However, two independent handwriting experts, one who previously worked for the FBI, concluded that there was a high probability that the handwriting on the placemat – excerpts of which are shown in the report – matches Claver-Carone’s handwriting. in bank documents. Claver-Carone refused to submit a handwriting sample as part of the probe, the report said.


AP writer Fatima Hussein contributed to this report from Washington.

Joshua Goodman on Twitter: @APJoshGoodman


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