Bank executives urge removal of Trump official in ethical probe

Executive directors of the Inter-American Development Bank voted unanimously Thursday to recommend removing a former Trump official as head 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 of directors concluded that Mauricio Clavier Carrone had violated the code of ethics by favoring a top lieutenant 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 executives, according to the person, who insisted he not be named. The final decision to dismiss Claver-Carone now rests with the financial officers who are members of the board of directors representing all of the bank’s 48 member states.

Among those pushing for the removal of Claver-Carone is the Biden administration, which has said it is troubled by Claver-Carone’s refusal to cooperate fully with an independent investigation.

“His creation of a climate of fear of retaliation among employees and borrowing nations has led to a loss of confidence by the bank’s employees and shareholders and requires a change of leadership,” a Treasury spokesperson said.

Claver Karouni remained defiant in the wake of the vote, saying in a statement that his replacement would embolden China, which joined the bank during the Obama administration.

“It is a shame that the United States commented to the press before notifying me that they are not defending Americans against what appears to be fabricated information,” he said.

The Associated Press obtained a confidential investigation report by a law firm appointed by the bank’s board of directors to consider an anonymous misconduct complaint against Claver-Carone.

Investigators said it was reasonable to conclude that he has continued a relationship with his chief of staff since at least 2019, when both held senior positions on the National Security Council. They said the alleged relationship led a US official at the time to warn that it constituted a counterintelligence risk.

Figure A in the 21-page report is a “contract” they allegedly painted on the back of a mattress in the summer of 2019 while they were having dinner at a steakhouse in Medellin, Colombia. Both were there attending the annual meeting of the Organization of American States.

In it, they allegedly set a timeline for their wives’ divorce and marriage. There is also a “Breach Clause” which states that any failure to meet the terms would bring “sadness and sorrow” that can only be mitigated by the “wax and naughty chest” of an oceanfront hotel in Miami, Clavier Carone’s hometown.

“We deserve absolute happiness. According to the contract, a photo was given to investigators by the woman’s ex-husband, who told investigators he had found a placemat in her wallet when she returned from the flight.

The alleged contract is one of the many details in the report in which Claver Carone is fighting to save his job. They include allegations that he had a hotel room appointment at 1 a.m. with his chief of staff, sent her a poem one Sunday morning titled “My Soul is in a Hurry” and—perhaps most disturbingly—give her a 40% pay raise at Violation of the Bank’s conflict of interest policies.

Claver-Carone questioned the accuracy of the report, strongly denouncing the way the review was conducted He did not suggest that he was considering resigning.

According to investigators, he denied that there was a romantic relationship between him and his right hand – now or before.

The report said his chief of staff denied the allegations in the anonymous complaint, telling investigators that it had never violated the IDB’s Code of Ethics. And in a written note to investigators, she also complained about being denied due process.

The Associated Press is not naming Claver-Carone’s aide because the report, titled “Confidential,” has not been made public.

“Neither I nor any other IDB employee has been given an opportunity to review the final investigation report, respond to its conclusions, or correct errors,” Claver Carone said in a statement. statement Tuesday.

The findings point to accusations of moral pitfalls against another Republican at the head of a multilateral establishment, former Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who resigned as World Bank president in 2007 for arranging Generous salary increase for his girlfriend.

The Inter-American Development Bank is Latin America’s largest multilateral bank, spending 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 hatred for Claver Caron, whose election as head of the Islamic Development Bank in the final months of Trump’s presidency went against the tradition that a Latin American headed the bank.

Some of the braver 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 intentionally violated the bank’s travel policies to cover up an affair, or retaliated against any of the bank’s employees, as alleged in an anonymous complaint sent in March to the bank’s board of directors.

However, Davis Polk has harshly criticized Claver Caron and his chief of staff for failing to fully cooperate with their investigation – considering it a violation of the bank’s policies and principles.

For example, the report said Claver-Carone failed to hand over his bank-issued mobile phone for analysis even though he submitted a forensic report conducted by a counsellor. The report stated that Claver-Carone also did not post messages from his personal phone or Gmail account with his chief of staff.

“In particular in light of their failure to cooperate, it would be reasonable to conclude that evidence of a prior relationship, and additional circumstantial evidence of an existing relationship while they were at the Bank, constituted a violation of applicable Bank policies,” the report said.

Davis Polk’s report said Claver Carone raised his assistant’s pay by 40% within a year. She said one of the increases and change of address was ordered by Claver Carone a day after an email exchange in which she complained that she was not getting enough respect from her co-workers.

“I knew her,” she wrote, according to the report. “It’s your bank.”

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

When Clavier Carone encountered pictures of the alleged place rug “holding” during an interview this month, he told investigators he had never seen the document and denied it was his handwriting or signature. He stated that the document was forged and part of a plot by his former assistant’s husband to harm her.

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

However, two independent experts on handwriting, one of whom was formerly with the FBI, concluded that there was a good chance that the handwriting on the place mat — extracts of which are shown in the report — matched Claver-Carone’s handwriting on bank documents. The report said Claver Carone refused to provide a handwritten sample as part of the investigation.


Author Fatima Hussein contributed to this report from Washington.


Joshua Goodman on Twitter: APJoshGoodman

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