Wealthy Peru presidential candidate accused of buying votes

Lima: The National Voting Affairs Office (ONPE) yesterday said it launched an investigation of videos shown on TV Panorama, in which Acuna is seen apparently offering 10,000 soles (USD 2,800) to people at a market in Lima to build a retaining wall and protect their homes from mudslides.

Giving money to voters is illegal in Peru.

“I want to share what God has given me for your retaining wall,” Acuna is heard to say in part.

In another clip, the businessman who owns three universities and reports an income of 16 million dollars a year offers 5,000 soles (USD 1,400) to a young man with a disability.

“ONPE has begun investigating whether there has been a violation of the law that expressly bars candidates and political organisations from giving, offering or promising money,” the office said in a statement.

The conduct, if confirmed, could see Acuna fined and removed from the presidential race. First round voting is scheduled for April 10.

Acuna, who at one point was second in the polls after lawmaker Keiko Fujimori, recently slipped to fourth place amid allegations he plagiarized his doctoral thesis at Madrid’s Universidad Complutense. Acuna denies those charges.

Fujimori, daughter of ex president Alberto Fujimori, is leading the race with 35 per cent, followed by economist Julio Guzman (17 per cent), and economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (11 per cent).

If no one candidate wins 50 per cent plus one vote, a second-round vote will be held in June.

Incumbent President Ollanta Humala cannot seek a consecutive term.

Alberto Fujimori, 77, is currently serving a 25-year prison term for corruption and human rights violations.