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Honduran finance minister resigns after wife's arrest

From Elvin Sandoval, For CNN
updated 4:08 AM EDT, Fri August 3, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hector Guillen resigns as finance minister, but says his family committed no crime
  • Police stop his wife's car and find Honduran currency worth more than $57,000
  • Authorities are investigating whether his wife was laundering money
  • Anyone transporting more than $10,000 must prove where the money came from, law says

Tegucigalpa, Honduras (CNN) -- The finance minister of Honduras has resigned after police arrested his wife. Authorities said they found a stash of money totaling more than $57,000 in her car.

After resigning Wednesday, former Finance Minister Hector Guillen told CNN affiliate Televicentro that the money was obtained as part of a loan. But authorities said they were investigating whether his wife, Dinora, was laundering money.

"Here in this country, it's not that it's prohibited to carry money. But what is prohibited is not having proof of where the money came from. I can't say whether they are money laundering. The law is clear and is being applied," said Juan Carlos Bonilla, the nation's police chief.

In Honduras, the law requires anyone transporting the equivalent of more than $10,000 to declare it before authorities and establish where it came from. Guillen's wife was transporting 1.12 million lempiras, worth more than $57,000.

A special prosecutor for organized crime is handling the case.

"What the prosecutors ... will look for objectively is whether the money was acquired in a legal manner," said Carlos Vallecillo, a spokesman for the office.

Police say the former finance minister's wife could not prove where the money came from when she was stopped by police Tuesday.

Guillen resigned the next day, but he told CNN affiliate Televicentro that no one in his family had committed a crime. The money was a financier's loan that was intended to be used to buy dollars and pay a supplier in Guatemala who provides products for a bed store the former finance minister owns, he said.

"My wife and my son did not know they were carrying the money until they were stopped by the police. Only the driver was aware of the situation because it was a last-minute thing," Guillen said.

"It will be the courts that determine this situation," he added, "and in order to protect my family and my honor I have taken the decision to resign from my post in order to face life, as I always have done, honestly and fully."

If the family cannot clarify where the money came from, they could be charged with laundering money and face up to 20 years in prison.

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