The head of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), Mark Machin, has resigned after traveling to the United Arab Emirates to be vaccinated against COVID-19, flouting Canadian government’s travel advice and drawing criticism.

CPPIB, the country’s largest pension fund, on Friday named John Graham as chief executive officer, who is currently senior managing director and global head of credit investments.

“While the CPPIB is an independent organization, we are very disappointed by this troubling situation and we support the swift action taken by the Board of Directors,” said Kat Cuplinskas, press secretary for Canada’s Ministry of Finance.

“The Deputy Prime Minister spoke to the Chair of the Board of Directors today and made clear that Canadians place their trust in the CPPIB and expect it to be held to a higher standard,” Cuplinskas told Reuters in an email.

Machin did not respond to a Reuters request for comment. He is the first CPPIB CEO to be forced to resign, a source told Reuters.

Machin sent an internal memo to CPPIB staff acknowledging that he took a personal trip and was in Dubai for a number of reasons, some of which were “deeply personal”, the source said.

Machin said the trip was supposed to be “very private” and that he was disappointed it had become the focus of “expected criticism”, according to the source.

Although there is no specific ban on Canadians traveling abroad, the federal and provincial governments have advised against overseas trips to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Canada trails behind many developed nations in its vaccination drive, with under 3% of the population inoculated so far. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has come under attack from opposition leaders and provincial premiers for the slow-burn roll out.

Machin, 54, received Pfizer’s vaccine shot after arriving in the UAE with his partner this month, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

According to the report, Machin has stayed on in the UAE and is due to receive his second dose in coming weeks.

The UAE says it provides COVID-19 vaccinations to residents and citizens only, free of charge, and requires a valid residency identification card to receive the shots. It was not immediately clear how Machin, a British national, secured the vaccine by traveling to Dubai.

Machin, an alumnus of Cambridge and Oxford Universities, joined CPPIB in March 2012 and was appointed as president and chief executive officer in 2016. He had a 20-year long career at Goldman Sachs Group Inc prior to joining the pension fund.

Machin rose steadily through the ranks during his two decades at Goldman Sachs Asia, running their capital markets, financing and investment banking businesses at various times. He ended his stint with the bank as vice chairman of Asia based in Beijing.

Incoming CEO Graham has been with CPPIB for 10 years. Prior to that he was with Xerox Innovation Group for over nine years.

Graham holds an MBA from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and a PhD from the University of Western Ontario.

Some Canadian federal and provincial leaders have resigned in the past month after their overseas leisure trips sparked public outrage.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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