Sat, 04 Dec 2021

MEXICO CITY, Mexico: A scandal involving his wedding in Guatemala has forced Santiago Nieto, the chief of Mexico's Financial Intelligence Unit, to resign.

Nieto led the agency tasked with cracking down on money-laundering crimes, and was a long-time ally of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in his anti-corruption campaign.

Nieto was forced to resign after Guatemalan authorities seized $35,000 in cash from a private jet carrying influential guests to his wedding. The case belonged to Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, president of prominent Mexican newspaper El Universal.

In a column on Monday, the newspaper claimed the money was intended to be spent on medical treatment and had been properly declared to Mexican officials.

But upon his resignation, Lopez Obrado admitted the overall situation, including the private planes, lavish foreign weddings and bags of cash, had done irreparable damage to himself.

"It is a scandalous matter, even when it is a private event. Public matters in Mexico are increasingly public and more is known about private matters," he said.

Elected in 2018 on a campaign promising to counter corruption, Lopez Obrado has been criticised for being more concerned about his public image than facing the many issues affecting the country.

Since taking office, he has crafted an image of obsessive austerity and has refused to live in the former presidential palace.

Mexico City's secretary of tourism, Paola Felix, was also caught up in the wedding scandal and resigned from her post following media reports that she was detained at a Guatemalan airport on her way to the wedding for trying to illegally carry a large amount of cash into the country, an accusation she has denied.

Progressive politician Pablo Gomez will take over Nieto's position.

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