Guatemala VP resigns amid corruption row

Guatemala’s vice president has quit amid a customs corruption scandal that has implicated her former private secretary.

In a letter, Roxana Baldetti said the move meant she was giving up her immunity from possible prosecution and promised “to collaborate with all investigations”. She has denied any involvement in the alleged bribery.

President Oscar Perez Molina called the decision “brave”. MPs voted 149 to zero at a special session to accept her resignation.

Baldetti is the first Guatemalan vice president to step down due to a corruption case, although prosecutors have not implicated her.

The resignation shows the continuing impact of a UN commission that has been investigating criminal networks and fighting impunity in Guatemala since 2007. It worked with prosecutors who brought charges in the customs case.

Baldetti’s former aide Juan Carlos Monzon Rojas is alleged to have been the ringleader of a scheme to defraud the state of millions by taking bribes in exchange for lower customs duties.

His last known whereabouts were overseas and he is being sought by officials.

Recent days had seen rising calls for Baldetti’s resignation by protesters and influential business leaders. The country’s Constitutional Court ruled that congress would have the power to strip her of the immunity from prosecution that came with her office.

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