MIAMI (AP) – Investigators say they have 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 relationship they allegedly sealed in a pact written on the back of a restaurant placemat: “We deserve absolute good luck.”
The Associated Press has obtained a copy of a confidential report from a law firm hired by the board of the Inter-American Development Bank to investigate an anonymous complaint 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 one 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 struck on the back of a coaster in the summer of 2019 while dining at a steakhouse in Medellin, Colombia. Both attended the annual meeting of the Organization of American States.
In it, they allegedly outline the time frame for divorce and marriage. There’s also a “breach clause” stating that any failure to meet the terms would bring “sorrow and heartbreak” that could only be alleviated with “candle wax and a naughty box” from a beachfront hotel in Claver-Carone’s native Miami.
“We deserve absolute happiness. May only God break this alliance,” reads the contract, a photo of which was given to investigators by the woman’s ex-husband, who told investigators he found the coaster in her purse when she returned from a trip.
The alleged contract is one of several details in the report where Claver-Carone is fighting to keep her job. They include allegations that he had a meeting in a hotel room with his chief of staff at 1am, sent her a song on Sunday morning titled “My Soul is in a Hurry” and — perhaps most worryingly — awarded her a 40 percent pay rise in violation of bank policies on conflict of interest.
Claver-Carone disputed the accuracy of the report, strongly condemning the way the review was conducted and gives no indication that he is considering resigning.
According to investigators, he 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 complaint and told investigators that she had never violated the IDB’s code of ethics, the report said. In a written submission to investigators, she also complained that she was denied due process.
The AP is not naming Claver-Carone’s aide because the report, which has been marked “confidential,” has not been released.
“Neither I nor any other IDB staff member has been given the opportunity to review the final investigative report, respond to its conclusions, or correct any inaccuracies,” Claver-Carone said in statement Tuesday.
The findings echo accusations of ethical lapses against another Republican at the top of the 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 Latin America’s largest multilateral lender, committing as much as $23 billion each year to 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 of the Washington-based bank, and some in the White House have made no secret of their dislike of Claver-Carone, whose selection to head the IDB in the final months of Trump’s presidency broke the tradition of a Latin American heading the bank.
New York-based Davis Polk was unable to substantiate some of the more lurid claims made in the report. The law firm also found no evidence that Claver-Carone knowingly violated the bank’s travel policy to cover up a romantic relationship, or that he retaliated against any bank employees, as alleged in an anonymous complaint sent in March to the bank’s board of directors.
Still, Davis Polk harshly criticized Claver-Carone and his chief of staff for failing to fully cooperate with their investigation — a violation of bank policy and principles.
For example, the report states that Claver-Carone did not submit his bank-issued cell phone for analysis, even though he submitted a forensic report conducted by a consultant. Claver-Carone also did not share messages from his personal phone or Gmail account with his chief of staff, according to the report.
“Especially in light of their failure to cooperate, it would be reasonable to conclude that the evidence of the prior relationship and the additional circumstantial evidence of the current relationship while both were with the Bank constituted a violation of applicable Bank policies,” the report said.
Davis Polk’s report states that Claver-Carone raised his assistant’s salary by 40% within a year. It said one of the raises and a title change was ordered by Claver-Carone a day after an email exchange in which she complained about not getting enough respect from her colleagues.
“Understand that. It’s your bank,” she wrote, according to the report.
Davis Polk, who also led the investigation that led to the resignation of Andrew Cuomo as governor of New York, blamed Claver-Carone for making hiring decisions about someone with whom he is believed to have been romantically involved. However, it said other executives received raises of a similar size and that his chief of staff’s current salary of $420,000 is in line with her predecessor’s compensation.
Claver-Carone, when confronted with photos of the mat’s alleged “contract” during an interview this month, told investigators he had never seen the document and denied it was his handwriting or signature. He stated that the document was fake and part of his assistant’s ex-husband’s plan to harm her.
In a letter to the bank’s general counsel, seen by AP, the chief of staff’s divorce attorneys said her ex-husband had a history of cruelty and revenge that was brought up in the divorce proceedings. They said all the 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 coaster – parts of which were shown in the report – matched Claver-Carone’s writing on the bank documents. Claver-Carone refused to provide a handwriting sample as part of the investigation, the report said.
Joshua Goodman on Twitter: @APJoshGoodman