May 16, 2016 / 5:52 PM / a year ago

Peru presidential candidate questions alleged laundering probe

LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori said on Monday a report linking her and a senior aide to money laundering was “dirty” politics and an attempt to smear her three weeks before a closely-fought election.

Peruvian presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori of Fuerza Popular (Popular Force) gives a speech during a meeting with local leaders in San Juan de Lurigancho in Lima, Peru, May 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

The report broadcast on America Television on Sunday night featured comments from a man who was identified as a pilot and informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), who said the agency was investigating audio he recorded in 2013.

In the audio, he said, the secretary general of Fujimori’s Fuerza Popular party, Joaquin Ramirez, stated he had laundered $15 million for her during a previous political campaign.

The report said it had verified with the DEA that the agency was investigating Ramirez.

The U.S. anti-drugs agency said in a short statement on Monday “Keiko Fujimori is not currently, nor has been previously, under investigation by DEA.” The DEA declined to confirm or deny any further allegations contained in the television report.

Fujimori said she would ask the U.S. agency about the report but categorically denied she had given money to Ramirez.

“Of course we will formally ask the DEA’s opinion, if there really is such an investigation,” Fujimori told local TV in Cusco, where she was campaigning ahead of the June 5 vote.

“I have to be suspicious about this accusation...I think it’s part of a dirty war.”

Property businessman Ramirez also denied the allegations, saying that he had met the supposed informant some years ago over a failed plane purchase deal.

“It is being used politically to damage Keiko Fujimori’s campaign,” he told America Television in a telephone interview following the Sunday night report.

Neither Fujimori nor Ramirez were immediately available for further comment.

Most recent polls indicate that the daughter of disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori and her rival, centrist technocrat Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, are running neck and neck ahead of the June 5 run-off election.

Although Fujimori easily won the first round of the election in April, she faces stiff opposition from Peruvians who say she is too closely associated with her father.

Alberto Fujimori is serving a 25-year sentence for human rights abuses and corruption committed during his 1990-2000 government.

Reporting by Marco Aquino in Lima, Additional reporting by Julia Harte in Washington,; Writing by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Andrew Hay

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