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Economy minister’s niece gives up regulator job

New giant supervisor gets off to a rocky start owing to accusations of nepotism in major appointments

The niece of Economy Minister Luis de Guindos, Beatriz de Guindos, has resigned as director of competition of the new controversial super-watchdog, the National Commission for the Markets and Competition (CNMC), just a day after being named to the post.

Sources close to the minister’s niece said she had decided to stand down in order not to damage the image of the new supervisory body.

Her resignation leaves up in the air the future of Micaela Arias, the daughter of Agriculture and Environment Minister Miguel Arias Cañete, whom De Guindos named as sub-director of competition. The appointment of two relatives of government ministers to the CNMC prompted a media storm of nepotism allegations.

The post of director of competition is regarded as the most important at the CNMC after that of its board members.

A state economist, Beatriz de Guindos began her professional career in 2003 at the old Competition Service, which was under the wing of the Economy Ministry when her uncle was secretary of state for the economy in the government of Prime Minister José María Aznar. She was well considered professionally.

The possible damage to the image of the CNMC from accusations of nepotism was heightened by the controversy surrounding the creation of what is officially an independent organization. Some of the members of the board are close to the government and the rationale behind the decision to merge several supervisory bodies was questioned by the European Commission, which imposed certain changes to its design.