Bank directors urged to sack Trump official in ethics probe

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

According to a report obtained by the Associated Press, the move came after an investigation conducted at the request of the bank board found that Mauricio Clever-Caron violated the rules of ethics by supporting a top aide with whom he had a romantic relationship.

The recommendation to remove Clever-Caron came at an in-camera meeting of the bank’s 14 executive directors, according to the person, who insisted not to be named. The final decision to remove Clever-Caron now rests with the finance officials who sit on the board of governors representing all 48 member countries of the bank.

Among those pushing for Clever-Carone’s removal is the Biden administration, which said it was upset by Clever-Carone’s refusal to fully cooperate with an independent investigation.

“The building up of an environment of fear of retaliation between employees and borrowing countries has led to the loss of the trust of the bank’s employees and shareholders and a change in leadership is needed,” a Treasury Department spokesperson said.

Clever-Caron said in a statement after the vote that his replacement would give a boost to China, which had joined the bank during the Obama administration.

“It is shameful that America commented on the press before informing me and it is clearly not defending two Americans against fabricated information,” he said.

The AP obtained a confidential investigation report by a law firm appointed by the bank’s board to look into an anonymous complaint of misconduct against Clever-Caron.

Investigators said it was reasonable to conclude that he had had a relationship with his chief of staff since at least 2019, when both held senior positions on the National Security Council. He said the alleged affair 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 drew behind a place mat while dining at a steakhouse in Medellin, Colombia, in the summer of 2019. Both were attending the annual meeting of the Organization of American States there.

In it, they reportedly outline a timeline for divorcing their spouses and getting married. There is also an “infringement clause” which states that any failure to meet the conditions will bring “sadness and heartbreak” which can only be referred to as “candles and a naughty box” from a seaside hotel in Clever-Caron’s native Miami. can be reduced by

“We deserve absolute happiness. Only God part w/ this covenant,” according to the covenant, a photo of which was provided to investigators by the woman’s ex-husband, who told investigators that she was to be carried in his wallet when she returned from the trip. I found the mat of place.

The alleged contract is one of several details in the report in which Clever-Caron is fighting to save his job. They include allegations that he had a hotel room with his chief of staff at 1 a.m., sent him a poem titled “My soul is in a hurry” on a Sunday morning and – perhaps most disturbing – he was paid 40% of his salary in violation. Awarded increased conflict of interest policies of the bank.

Clever-Caron disputes the accuracy of the report, strongly condemning the way it was reviewed And there is no indication that he is considering resignation.

According to investigators, he has denied ever having a romantic relationship – now or before – with his longtime right hand.

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

The AP is not naming an aide to Clever-Caron 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, to respond to its findings, or to correct errors,” Clever-Caron said in a statement. Statement Tuesday

The findings recall allegations of moral lapse over a multilateral institution against another Republican, former Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who resigned as head of the World Bank in 2007 to make arrangements. A generous salary increase for your girlfriend,

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

The US is the largest shareholder in the Washington-based bank, and some inside the White House have made no secret of their dislike for Clever-Caron, whose election as IDB chief in the final months of the Trump presidency broke with tradition. Gone to lead a Latin American bank.

Some of the more significant claims referenced in the report could not be substantiated by New York-based Davis Polk. The law firm also found no evidence that Clever-Caron deliberately broke the bank’s travel policies to conceal a romantic relationship, or retaliated against any bank employee, as sent to the bank’s board in March. The allegation was made in an anonymous complaint filed.

Nevertheless, Davis Polk strongly criticized Clever-Caron and his chief of staff for failing to fully cooperate with their investigation – considering it a violation of bank policies and principles.

For example, the report states that Clever-Caron failed to hand over his bank-issued mobile phone for analysis, although he provided a forensic report conducted by a consultant. The report said that Clever-Caron did not share messages from his personal phone or Gmail account with his chief of staff.

“Particularly 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 present relationship while they were both at the bank, is in violation of applicable bank policies,” the report said. Having said.

Davis Polk reports that Clever-Caron increased his colleague’s salary by 40% within a year. It said the lift-off and title change were ordered by Clever-Caron a day after an email exchange in which she complained of not getting enough respect from her coworkers.

“You find it. It’s your bank,” she wrote, per the report.

Davis Polk, who also investigated Andrew Cuomo’s resignation as governor of New York, blamed Clever-Caron for making an employment decision about someone with whom he believed he was romantically involved. . However, it said other officers received similar-sized increases and that their chief of staff’s current salary of $420,000 is in line with his predecessor’s compensation.

Clever-Caron when confronted with photos of the alleged place mat “contract” during an interview this month, told investigators he had never seen the document and denied that it was his handwriting or signature. She said the document was forged and part of a plan by her colleague’s ex-husband to harm her.

In a letter to the bank’s general counsel seen by the AP, divorce attorneys for the Chief of Staff said her ex-husband had a history of cruelty and revenge that was picked up in divorce proceedings. He said that any evidence given by him to the investigators should not be considered credible.

However, two independent handwriting experts who previously worked for the FBI concluded that it was highly likely that the handwriting on the place mat – portions of which appear in the report – was from Clever-Caron’s penmanship in bank documents. match. The report said that Clever-Caron refused to submit a handwriting sample as part of the investigation.

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AP writer Fatima Hussain contributed to this report from Washington.

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Joshua Goodman on Twitter: @APJoshGoodman

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