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Bank Directors Urge to Fire Trump Official in Ethics Investigation

MIAMI (AP) — The executive directors of the Inter-American Development Bank voted unanimously Thursday to recommend firing a former Trump official as president of the Washington-based institution, a person familiar with the vote said.

The move came after an investigation conducted at the request of the bank’s board found that Mauricio Claver-Carone violated ethics rules by favoring a top adviser with whom he had a romantic relationship, according to a report obtained by The Associated Press.

The recommendation to remove Claver-Carone came at a closed-door meeting of the bank’s 14 chief executives, according to the person who insisted on not being quoted by name. The final decision to fire Claver-Carone now rests with finance officials who sit on the Board of Governors representing the bank’s 48 member nations.

Among those pushing for Claver-Carone’s ouster is the Biden administration, which said it was concerned about Claver-Carone’s refusal to cooperate fully with an independent investigation.

“His creation of a climate of fear of retaliation among staff and borrowing countries has lost the trust of Bank staff and shareholders and requires a change in leadership,” a Treasury Department spokesman said.

Claver-Carone remained defiant after the vote, saying in a statement that replacing him would embolden China, which joined the bank during the Obama administration.

“It is disgraceful that the United States has commented to the press before notifying me and is not defending two Americans against what is clearly fabricated information,” he said.

The AP obtained the confidential investigative report from a law firm hired by the bank’s board to investigate an anonymous allegation of misconduct against Claver-Carone.

Investigators said it’s reasonable to conclude that he had been in a relationship with his chief of staff since at least 2019, when they both held senior positions on the National Security Council. They said the alleged relationship caused a US official at the time to warn that he posed a counterintelligence risk.

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

In it, they allegedly outline a timetable for divorcing their spouses and getting married. There is also a “default clause” stating that any breach of the terms would bring “sadness and anguish” that could only be mitigated with “candle wax and a naughty box” from a beachfront hotel in Claver-Carone’s native Miami. .

“We deserve absolute happiness. May only God part from this pact,” 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 her bag when she returned from the trip. .

The alleged contract is one of several details in the report that Claver-Carone has fought to save her job. They include accusations that he had a hotel room date with his chief of staff, sent him a poem on a Sunday morning titled “My Soul Is in a Hurry” and, perhaps most troubling, gave him a 40% raise in pay. violation of the bank’s conflict of interest policies.

Claver-Carone has disputed the accuracy of the report, strongly denounce the way the review was carried out and offers no indication that he is considering resigning.

According to investigators, he has denied having, now or before, been in a long-term romantic relationship with his right-hand man.

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

The AP is not naming Claver-Carone’s assistant because the report, which is labeled “confidential,” has not been made public.

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

The findings are reminiscent of accusations of ethical lapses against another Republican at the top of a multilateral institution, former Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who resigned as head of the World Bank in 2007 for organizing a generous raise for his girlfriend.

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

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

Some of the more lewd claims referenced in the report could not be substantiated by New York-based Davis Polk. The law firm also found no evidence that Claver-Carone knowingly violated the bank’s travel policies to cover up a romantic relationship, or retaliated against bank employees, as alleged in an anonymous complaint sent to the board of directors in March. from the bank.

Still, Davis Polk sharply criticized Claver-Carone and his chief of staff for not fully cooperating with his investigation, calling it a violation of the bank’s policies and principles.

For example, the report says that Claver-Carone did not turn over his bank-issued mobile phone for analysis, although he did provide a forensic report by a consultant. Claver-Carone also did not share messages from his personal phone or Gmail account with her chief of staff, according to the report.

“Particularly in light of their lack of cooperation, it would be reasonable to conclude that evidence of a prior relationship, and additional circumstantial evidence of a current relationship while both were at the Bank, constitute a violation of applicable Bank policies,” it read. The report.

The Davis Polk report says that Claver-Carone raised her assistant’s salary by 40% in one year. He said Claver-Carone ordered one of the raises and a title change a day after an email exchange in which he complained he didn’t get enough respect from his co-workers.

“You noticed. It’s his bank,” he wrote, according to the report.

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

Claver-Carone, when confronted with photos of the purported placemat “contract” during an interview this month, told investigators she had never seen the document and denied it was her handwriting or signature. She said the document was fraudulent and part of a plan by his assistant’s ex-husband to harm her.

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

However, two independent handwriting experts, one of whom 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, matched Claver-Carone’s handwriting. on bank documents. Claver-Carone refused to submit a handwriting sample as part of the investigation, according to the report.

AP journalist Fatima Hussein contributed to this report from Washington.

Joshua Goodman on Twitter: @APJoshGoodman


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