Peru presidential candidate Castillo rejects claim of false declaration

Peru's socialist presidential candidate Pedro Castillo, who will face right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori in a June runoff, speaks to supporters during a tour in Lima, Peru, May 15, 2021. REUTERS/Sebastian Castaneda

LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian socialist presidential candidate Pedro Castillo on Saturday denied making a false declaration about his work status when he registered to run for high office.

On Friday, Lima province prosecutor Elizabeth Figueroa Cortez said in a statement that she had requested an investigation into claims that Castillo had failed to declare a second job.

Figueroa said Castillo had declared a teacher's salary of 63,760 soles ($16,760) a year on his presidential candidate registration, but failed to include that he was also general manager of the Chota Consortium of Entrepreneurial Investors.

The prosecutor said she had asked the government to confirm whether the consortium had received any state contracts, or COVID-19 financing from a government economic recovery plan, as well as requesting information on its status from Peru's tax authority.

Castillo, who leads the socialist Peru Libre party, told a local radio station that he had not mentioned the company when he registered as a candidate because it existed in name only and was "never operational."

"Let them make these claims, say how much I have stolen," he said. "Let them do their investigations, I welcome them."

Castillo, a newcomer to politics who has caused market jitters by pledging to rewrite Peru's constitution and nationalize mineral resources, was until recently a clear frontrunner to win the second round of the presidential election on June 6.

However, a poll published on Friday showed his lead being trimmed by right-wing opponent Keiko Fujimori, with Castillo polling 42% of the vote and Fujimori polling 40%.

Castillo is due to present his plan for his first 100 days in office later on Saturday. His office declined to comment further on the prosecutor's investigation.

Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori, has spent time on remand for allegedly receiving $1.2 million from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. In March she was charged with money laundering, a claim she denies.

(Reporting by Manuel Farias, writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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