OAS chief faces probe over relationship with staffer

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FILE PHOTO: Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles

By Marco Aquino and Carolina Pulice

LIMA (Reuters) -Luis Almagro, the chief of the Organization of American States (OAS), confirmed on Friday that he faces an internal investigation over a romantic relationship with a staff member, but denied it might have violated the organization’s ethics policies.

Almagro’s remarks, at the end of the OAS’s annual summit this week in Lima, followed a report by the Associated Press that described a “long-running” consensual relationship with a Mexican-born woman two decades his junior.

“My team and I are very calm, because we have always taken the appropriate measures, so that no situation would be in violation of (OAS) rules,” Almagro told a news conference.

“I was never a supervisor of any person with whom I had a relationship, I never promoted her and never raised her salary in any way.”

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.

On Friday night, Peru’s ambassador to the OAS, Harold Forsyth, said he was aware of the relationship but denied there had been any impropriety.

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“What I know is he has a relationship with a woman who works at the OAS,” Forsyth told Canal N television.

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

The OAS’ ethics guidelines say staff must not have intimate relationships when they interfere with the performance of their duties or “disadvantage others in the workplace.”

They also dictate that managers must step back from “supervising or evaluating” the other individual.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino in Lima and Carolina Pulice in Mexico City, Writing by Isabel Woodford; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Clarence Fernandez and William Mallard)