IDB may investigate chief over possible relationship with staffer,...


By Cassandra Garrison and Andrea Shalal MEXICO CITY/WASHINGTON, April 7 (Reuters) - Inter-American Development Bank directors have met to discuss accusations in an anonymous email that the bank's president, Mauricio Claver-Carone, carried out an intimate relationship with a staffer, three sources said. One of the sources, a person at the IDB with direct knowledge of the matter, said the directors had debated the possibility of hiring an outside firm to investigate the allegations and asking Claver-Carone to temporarily step aside. The two other sources confirmed that the bank's 14 directors, its general counsel and its deputy secretary met to discuss the allegations and how to proceed in a two-and-a-half hour virtual meeting on Tuesday. The IDB officials are expected to meet again this week to discuss the outside firm and Claver-Carone's employment status, a source said. Reuters was unable to confirm the claims about the alleged relationship, which, if verified, would appear to be against the bank's rules. The IDB did not comment when asked about the meeting and the allegations.

Claver-Carone, a former White House official nominated to the IDB role by President Donald Trump, did not respond to repeated emails or calls seeking comment. Before coming to the IDB in 2020, Claver-Carone served under Trump as senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council. The IDB is a development bank that while far smaller than the International Monetary Fund or World Bank, is a key player in Latin America.

It was responsible for $23.4 billion in financing and other financial commitments to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2021, according to bank figures. An anonymous email sent to the board of directors and the bank's ethics officer a week ago accused Claver-Carone of carrying out a relationship with a senior strategist who reported to him, according to the bank source with direct knowledge of the meeting.

Reuters has not seen the email. The email also accused Claver-Carone and the staffer of misusing IDB funds, one source said, without giving more detail. The IDB's ethics code on its web site states "you cannot participate in any employment-related decisions about someone with whom you have an intimate relationship." The allegations surfaced just weeks after the bank's annual meeting and just as Claver-Carone is seeking to push through a capital increase for IDB Invest, the bank's private sector arm. Raising capital would require backing from the United States, the bank's biggest shareholder, and its other members at a time when resources are tight due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and rising climate shocks.

Leading Democrats opposed Claver-Carone's nomination for the IDB role by Trump. The U.S. Treasury Department declined to comment when asked about the IDB meeting. The directors are expected to meet again on Thursday to ask the board of governors, most of whom are finance ministers of member countries, to allow them to launch an investigation, according to the bank source with knowledge of the meeting. The results would be shared with the governors when it is completed, rédacteurs the bank source said. Claver-Carone, a hard-line Cuba hawk, faced a strong backlash ahead of his election to the IDB presidency in 2020 by some member states, including Argentina and Mexico, that bristled at breaking the bank's tradition since 1959 of having a president from a Latin American country. Claver-Carone dismissed the push back website at the time, saying he had "overwhelming" support, citing public backing from 15 countries and six more privately.

(Reporting by Cassandra Garrison, additional reporting by Andrea Shalal in Washington; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Alistair Bell)

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