March 30, 2023

MIAMI (AP) – Investigators say they have found evidence that a former Trump official who headed Latin America’s largest development bank carried on a romantic relationship with his chief of staff – a bond they allegedly forged in an agreement written on the back of a restaurant place mat. : “We deserve absolute happiness.”

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

In it, investigators said it was reasonable to conclude that the relationship between the two had existed since at least 2019, when 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.

Exhibit A in the 21-page report is a “contract” they allegedly drew on the back of a place mat in the summer of 2019 while they were dining at a steakhouse in Medellin, Colombia. Both attended the annual meeting of the Organization of American States there.

In it, they allegedly outlined a timeline for divorcing and remarrying their wives. There’s also a “break clause” that says failure to meet the terms will bring “sadness and heartbreak” that can only be alleviated by “candlewax and a naughty box” from an oceanfront hotel in Clever-Caron’s native Miami.

“We deserve absolute happiness. Only God take part in this agreement,” according to the agreement, a photo of which was provided to investigators by the woman’s ex-husband, who told investigators he found the place mat in her purse when she returned from a trip.

The alleged deal is one of several details in the report that Claver-Carone has fought to save her job. These included allegations that he met with his chief of staff in a hotel room at 1 a.m., sent her a poem titled “My Soul is in a Hurry” on Sunday morning, and—perhaps most troubling—was given a 40% pay raise in violation. Bank’s Conflict of Interest Policy.

Claver-Carone disputed the accuracy of the report, strongly criticizing the manner in which the review was conducted. And he has given no indication that he is considering resigning.

According to investigators, he has denied having a romantic relationship — now or in the past — with his longtime right-hand man.

His chief of staff denied the allegations in the anonymous complaint and told investigators he never violated the IDB’s code of conduct, the report said. In a written submission to investigators, he alleged that he was denied due process.

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

“Neither I nor any other IDB staff member was given the opportunity to review the final investigation report, respond to its conclusions, or correct any errors,” Claver-Carone said in a message. statement tuesday

The findings recall allegations of ethical lapses against another Republican atop the multilateral institution, former Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who resigned as head of the World Bank in 2007 to make arrangements. A generous pay rise for his girlfriend.

The Inter-American Development Bank is Latin America’s largest multilateral lender, disbursing $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 they might take.

The United States is the Washington-based bank’s largest shareholder and some inside the White House have made no secret of their distaste for Claver-Carron, whose selection to head the IDB in the final months of Trump’s presidency broke with the tradition that Latin American banks head.

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

Still, Davis Polk harshly criticized Claver-Carone and his chief of staff for failing to cooperate fully with the investigation — considering it a violation of the bank’s policies and procedures.

For example, the report said Clever-Carone failed to hand over her bank-issued mobile phone for analysis even though she provided a forensic report conducted by a consultant. Claver-Carone also did not share messages from her personal phone or Gmail account with her key staff, the report said.

“Especially in light of their failure to cooperate, it would be reasonable to conclude that evidence of a prior relationship, and additional circumstantial evidence of a current relationship while they were both at the bank, constituted a violation of applicable bank policies,” the report said.

Davis Polk reports that Clever-Carone raised his associate’s salary by 40% within a year. It said Clever-Carone ordered a raise and title change after an email exchange a day after she complained about not getting enough respect from her colleagues.

“You find out. It’s your bank,” he wrote, according to the report.

Davis Polk, which also led the investigation that led to Andrew Cuomo’s resignation as New York governor, blamed Claver-Carone for making a hiring decision about someone with whom it believed she was romantically involved. However, it said other executives received similar-sized raises and that its chief of staff’s current salary of $420,000 is in line with his predecessor’s compensation.

Claver-Carone, when confronted with a photograph of the alleged place mat 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 a forgery and part of a plan by her associate’s ex-husband to harm her.

In a letter to the bank’s general counsel, seen by the AP, the divorce lawyer for the chief of staff said her ex-husband had a history of cruelty and retaliation that was brought up in the divorce proceedings. They said any evidence he provided to investigators should not 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 place mat — parts of which appeared in the report — matched Clever-Carone’s penmanship on the bank documents. Claver-Carone refused to submit a handwriting sample as part of the investigation, the report said.


Joshua Goodman on Twitter: @APJoshGoodman

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