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Fujimori’s Legal Woes Flare Up Amid Challenge to Peru Runoff

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 6/10/2021 María Cervantes

(Bloomberg) -- Peru’s roller-coaster presidential election had another twist as a prosecutor seeks to detain candidate Keiko Fujimori for violating the terms of her bail just as she disputes the results of a tight runoff against leftist Pedro Castillo.

Fujimori, who has been jailed three times since 2018, is being investigated for money laundering and leading a criminal organization, although she hasn’t been convicted of anything. Her husband and several of her closest aides are also under investigation.

Prosecutor Jose Domingo Perez said she hasn’t complied with the terms of her release in 2020 which prohibit her from communicating with witnesses in a case of alleged illicit campaign contributions, El Comercio reported, citing a copy of his request.

a crowd of people standing in front of a car: Peruvians Vote In Presidential Election Runoff © Bloomberg Peruvians Vote In Presidential Election Runoff

Keiko Fujimori

Photographer: Fabiola Granda/Bloomberg

At a press conference alongside her lawyer on Thursday, Fujimori said the prosecutor’s request distracts her from her attempt to review the vote.

A speaker for Fujimori’s party said her defense is being prepared and she is ready to attend any hearings she may be summoned to. The national prosecutor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

500,000 Votes

With 99% of the ballots tallied, the daughter of jailed former President Alberto Fujimori got 49.8% of the votes against 50.2% for Castillo. While she had the overwhelming support of investors and the business community, Castillo is more popular among the poor, particularly in rural districts, which appears to have given him the advantage in the tight runoff.

Fujimori on Wednesday reiterated her allegation of irregularities in Sunday’s election. She asked electoral authorities to nullify 200,000 votes and review another 300,000.

“Five hundred thousand votes are still at stake here, half a million votes nationwide, that we believe are essential to be analyzed for the elections jury’s final count,” she said in a statement.

The Peruvian sol was the worst performing emerging-market currency on Thursday, down 1.5%, as uncertainty about the electoral process poured cold water on a rally driven by Castillo’s attempt to assuage investors who fear his possible victory.

Castillo on Tuesday signaled that he won the vote. He represents the Marxist Peru Libre party, but in recent weeks has tried to reassure investors and voters that he doesn’t want to overhaul the nation’s economic model.

No Fraud Evidence

A senior official in President Joe Biden’s administration said the U.S. hasn’t seen evidence of fraud, only isolated incidents of voter intimidation.

If there is a free and fair election, “we work with governments of left, center, right, whoever it is,” said the official, who asked not to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. “We engage with them, find ways to work with them.”

Peru’s President Francisco Sagasti also said that there are no signs of fraud in the election.

(Updates with comments from Fujimori, President Sagasti)

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