June 2, 2015 / 11:12 PM / 4 years ago

Top aide to Guatemala president steps down amid corruption row

GUATEMALA CITY, June 2 (Reuters) - A high-ranking aide to Guatemalan President Otto Perez stood down on Tuesday over allegations of illicit enrichment, joining a long list of senior officials embroiled in graft scandals that have rocked the Central American country.

The departure of Gustavo Martinez, secretary general to the presidency and fiancee of Perez’s daughter, follows the resignation last month of Vice President Roxana Baldetti and a number of cabinet ministers, as well as the arrest of several officials, including the head of the Guatemalan central bank.

Baldetti and the ministers had been linked in the media to acts of corruption, while the central bank governor and at least 15 others were detained over a bribery probe.

Guatemalans have staged major protests against Perez’s center-right government, which has become swamped by corruption allegations ahead of presidential elections in September. Perez is barred by Guatemalan law from seeking re-election.

Martinez said he had taken the decision after media reports that he had acquired a massive property beyond his means. The media also questioned his wealth and reported that he had his U.S. visa withdrawn.

“To avoid this harming the presidency, it’s better I step down,” he told a news conference in the presidential palace.

Martinez did not comment on whether there was any substance to the allegations.

Thousands massed in Guatemala City’s central square last Saturday to demand the resignation of Perez, who has not personally been accused of wrongdoing. However, the retired army general says he will serve out his full term. (Additional reporting by Enrique Pretel Writing by Max de Haldevang; Editing by Dave Graham and David Gregorio)

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