The leader of Mexico’s anti-money laundering agency stepped down Monday after controversy surfaced regarding a large amount of cash found on a plane carrying guests to his wedding in Guatemala.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador accepted the resignation of Santiago Nieto as head of the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit (Unidad de Inteligencia Financiera). Pablo Gomez was named the new head of the unit, the government announced in a statement.
Guatemalan authorities seized $35,000 in cash from the plane headed toward Nieto’s wedding last week. Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, a passenger and president of Mexican newspaper El Universal, said the money belonged to him and that it was for medical treatment that had been properly cleared by Mexican officials.
Nevertheless, the optics of the situation looked poor, acknowledged López Obrador, who described the incident as “scandalous.”
In addition to the resignation of Nieto, the secretary of tourism for Mexico City, Paola Felix, has stepped down after it was reported she was detained as a fellow passenger on the plane carrying the cash.
Mexico has struggled in recent years to combat corruption, despite López Obrador vowing to crack down on criminal activity upon his taking office in 2018. The country tied for 124th in Transparency International’s 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index out of 180 territories.