August 25, 2015 / 3:31 AM / 2 years ago

Guatemala's finance minister resigns amid corruption scandal

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Guatemalan Finance Minister Dorval Carias resigned on Monday amid a deepening corruption scandal that has also featured calls for the impeachment of President Otto Perez.

Policemen keep watch outside the Supreme Court building, as former Guatemalan Vice President Roxana Baldetti attends a hearing, in Guatemala City, Guatemala August 24, 2015. REUTERS/Josue Decavele

A statement released by Carias’ office did not give a reason for his decision, but the move comes as the ministry is forming next year’s budget.

Communications Minister Victor Corado also tendered his resignation on Monday and three other ministers stepped down over the weekend after the country’s attorney general asked the Supreme Court for permission to prosecute Perez over a suspected customs racket.

The president has denied any wrongdoing and has said he will not stand down, but his position is in increasing jeopardy after prosecutors last week arrested his former vice president over the customs scandal and said they believed the 64-year-old Perez was in on the scam.

The impeachment bid follows months of corruption allegations against leading officials, which in May prompted Perez to fire several senior cabinet ministers. It also risks throwing the country’s upcoming presidential elections into disarray.

Perez, a retired general who took office in 2012, cannot run for re-election by law, and his right-wing Patriot Party is way off the pace ahead of the first round of voting on Sept. 6.

If no candidate wins at least 50 percent of the vote, a second round run-off will be held on Oct. 25, though the new president will not take office until the start of next year.

Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Editing by Kim Coghill

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