MIAMI (AP) – Investigators say they found evidence that a former Trump official who heads Latin America’s largest development bank had a romantic relationship with his chief of staff, a bond they allegedly forged in a pact scrawled on the back of a restaurant mat: “We deserve absolute happiness.”
The Associated Press obtained a copy of a confidential report from a law firm hired by the board of directors of the Inter-American Development Bank to investigate an anonymous allegation of misconduct against its president, Mauricio Claver-Carone.
In it, investigators said it is reasonable to conclude that the relationship between the two existed at least since 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” the two allegedly drew up 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 timeline for divorcing their spouses and getting married. There’s also a “break clause” stating that any breach of the terms would lead to “sadness and heartbreak” that could only be mitigated with “candle wax and a naughty box” from a hometown waterfront hotel of Claver-Carone, Miami.
“We deserve absolute happiness. May only God be part of 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 tablecloth in her bag when she returned from her trip.
The alleged contract is one of several details in the report that have Claver-Carone fighting to save her job. They include allegations that he had a 1 a.m. appointment with his chief of staff, sent her a poem on a Sunday morning titled “My Soul is in a Hurry” and, perhaps most disturbingly, granted him a raise of 40% salary in violation of the bank’s conflict of interest policy.
Claver-Carone has questioned the accuracy of the report, strongly decrying the way the review was conducted and offering no indication that she was considering resigning.
According to investigators, he has denied ever having, now or before, a romantic relationship with his longtime right-hand man.
His chief of staff denied the allegations in the anonymous whistleblower and told investigators he never violated the IDB’s code of ethics, according to the report. In a written communication to investigators, he also complained that he had been denied due process.
The AP is not naming Claver-Carone’s aide because the report, which is labeled “confidential,” has not been made public.
“Neither I nor any other IDB staff member has had an opportunity to review the final investigative report, respond to its findings, or correct any inaccuracies,” Claver-Carone said in a statement Tuesday.
The findings call to mind accusations of ethical wrongdoing against another Republican at the head of a multilateral institution, former Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who resigned as head of the World Bank in 2007 to arrange a generous pay raise for his girlfriend .
The Inter-American Development Bank is the main multilateral lender in Latin America, disbursing up to $23 billion each year 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, if any, action they might take.
The US is the largest shareholder in the Washington-based bank and some inside the White House have made no secret of their dislike of Claver-Carone, whose choice to head the IDB in the final months of Trump’s presidency break with tradition that a Latin American. heads the bank.
Some of the more salacious 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 March to the bank’s board of directors.
Still, Davis Polk harshly criticized Claver-Carone and her chief of staff for not fully cooperating with his investigation, calling it a violation of banking policies and principles.
For example, the report said Claver-Carone did not turn over her bank-issued cell phone for analysis, although she provided a forensic report performed by a consultant. Claver-Carone also did not share messages from her 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 the evidence of a prior relationship, and the additional circumstantial evidence of a current relationship while both were at the Bank, constitute a violation of the Bank’s policies Bank applicable.” said the report.
The Davis Polk report said Claver-Carone raised her assistant’s salary by 40 percent 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 about not getting enough respect from his co-workers.
“You get it. It’s your bank,” he wrote, according to the report.
Davis Polk, who also conducted the investigation that led to the resignation of Andrew Cuomo as New York governor, blamed Claver-Carone for making employment decisions about someone with whom he believes he had been romantically involved. However, he said other executives received raises of similar size 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 photographs of the alleged tablecloth “contract” during an interview this month, told investigators she had never seen the document and denied it was her handwriting or signature. She claimed the document was fraudulent and part of a scheme by her 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 who had previously worked for the FBI, concluded that there was a high probability that the handwriting on the individual mat—excerpts of which are shown in the report— matched Claver-Carone’s handwriting on the bank documents. Claver-Carone refused to submit a handwriting sample as part of the investigation, according to the report.
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