OAS chief says he faces investigation for relationship with an official of the organization

By Marco Aquino and Carolina Pulice

LIMA, Oct 7 (Reuters) – The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, confirmed on Friday that he faces an internal investigation for a romantic relationship with a staff member, but denied that the organization’s ethics policies.

Almagro’s comments, at a news conference at the end of the OAS annual summit this week in Lima, followed a report by the Associated Press news agency that described a “long-term” consensual relationship with a woman born in Mexico, two decades younger than him.

Almagro said that the investigation was opened after receiving an “anonymous complaint” of a possible violation of the code of ethics, which was transferred to the organization’s inspector general.

“My team and I are very calm because we have always taken appropriate measures to ensure that a situation did not violate the rules of the organization,” he said.

“I was never a supervisor of any person with whom I had a relationship, I never promoted them, nor did I ever increase their salary in any way,” the official added.

The woman, who was not identified, has been on unpaid leave since June, the AP said.

Almagro, who has led the Washington-based OAS since 2015, previously served as foreign minister in his native Uruguay. He is separated from his wife, the AP added.

Peru’s representative to the OAS, Harold Forsyth, said in an interview Friday night that he was aware of Almagro’s relationship but denied any wrongdoing.

“The relationship is with a lady who worked at the OAS long before he entered and does not have a functional relationship with him,” Forsyth told the Canal N television station.

The accusations came just weeks after the Inter-American Development Bank fired President Mauricio Claver-Carone following allegations, which he denies, that he had an intimate relationship with a female subordinate.

OAS ethics guidelines say that staff must not engage in intimate relationships when they interfere “with the performance of their duties or to harm others in the workplace.”

It also dictates that managers must move away from “supervising or evaluating” the other individual. (Reporting by Marco Aquino in Lima and Carolina Pulice in Mexico City, edited by Marcelo Rochabrun)

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