Nicaragua’s Miss Universe franchise owner accused of conspiracy

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Miss Australia Moraya Wilson, Miss Puerto Rico Karla Guilfu, Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios, Miss Thailand Anntonia Porsild and Miss Colombia Camila Avella the top five finalists, take part in the 72nd Miss Universe pageant in San Salvador November 18, 2023. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas/File Photo

(Reuters) – Nicaraguan police late on Friday charged the owner of the local Miss Universe franchise with conspiracy, money laundering and spreading fake news, just weeks after the Central American nation’s first victory in the pageant.

Authorities have accused Karen Celebertti, director of the Miss Nicaragua franchise, her husband and son with conspiracy against the government, according to a statement issued by the national police.

Celebertti’s local Miss Universe organization has been used to “turn pageants into political traps and political ambushes, financed by foreign agents,” the police statement said.

Reuters was not immediately able to contact Celebertti or her representatives for comment.

Celebertti was banned from entering the country on Oct. 21, and her husband and son have been detained in Nicaragua on accusations of conspiracy dating back to 2018. Authorities said they played a role in organizing anti-government protests.

Nicaragua’s Sheynnis Palacios won the title of Miss Universe on Nov. 18, becoming the first Central American to wear the crown. Palacios has not returned to Nicaragua since her victory and is now residing in New York.

Palacios’ triumph was celebrated by Nicaraguans in the streets. Police are now accusing the organizers of trying to organize anti-government protests.

The government had banned protests following a violent crackdown of widespread anti-government demonstrations in 2018 that left more than 320 dead according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.


(Reporting by Ismael Lopez; Editing by Toby Chopra)