QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuador’s Central Bank president has resigned after acknowledging that he presented a fake academic degree 22 years ago — a scandal that prompted the country’s leader to call for him to face justice.
Central Bank President Pedro Delgado, who is a cousin of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, apologized to the nation, the government and his family on Wednesday at a news conference.
‘‘With honesty, I should acknowledge that I made a very serious mistake 22 years ago,’’ Delgado said. ‘‘I made a wrong decision to achieve my academic objective.’’
He acknowledged that he had given a Costa Rican business school ‘‘a document with no value (showing) a degree I didn’t hold.’’
‘‘I kept this act secret. I offer an apology to my wife, children, the Ecuadorean people, the government ... and above all to President Rafael Correa,’’ Delgado said.
Correa called it a ‘‘very hard day’’ in a message on his Twitter account.
‘‘We've verified that Pedro Delgado had presented a false degree,’’ Correa said in the message, adding that it ‘‘has done serious damage to the revolution.’’
The scandal erupted after an investigation by opposition politician Enrique Herreria into Delgado’s academic record at the Catholic University of Ecuador and the prestigious INCAE Business School in Costa Rica.
Herreria told reporters on Thursday that Delgado had left the country, possibly for the United States.
Correa later said that Delgado had traveled to Miami for a son’s wedding and would be back after Christmas.
‘‘Pedro hasn’t fled the country. That trip was planned because tomorrow his oldest son is getting married,’’ Correa said at a news conference. ‘‘He has to return to be responsible for his actions.’’
Correa said that a government official traveled this week to Costa Rica to investigate the claims about the fake degree, and once confirmed, ‘‘we asked for his resignation.’’
‘‘He will have to assume his responsibility and respond before the justice system. Those behaviors aren’t acceptable in our government, everything necessary will have to be investigated,’’ Correa told reporters.
Delgado was appointed in November 2011. During his tenure, Delgado also faced questions from government critics about an $800,000 loan granted to an Argentine without going through proper procedures, and about his purchase of a house in Miami with a loan.