Lima: Peru`s first lady Nadine Heredia, who heads the ruling party and is touted as a possible presidential contender, denied Monday that Venezuela`s late president Hugo Chavez funded her husband`s campaigns.
Opposition leaders have regularly accused Heredia and her husband, left-wing President Ollanta Humala, of taking Venezuelan oil money to fund their Nationalist Party`s campaigns for the 2006 and 2011 elections.
The first lady, a popular politician in her own right, denied the claim after a recent poll found 58 percent of Peruvians believe it.
"That`s false. There have been so many rumors since 2005, but there`s nothing to them. We totally reject them," she told journalists, in rare public comments on the matter.
"That funding came from the efforts of our compatriots."
Prosecutors investigated Heredia after she declared a reported $200,000 in income from a Venezuelan news publication, but failed to find any irregularities.
Heredia says the money was a consulting fee.
Prosecutors opened a new investigation in February into money-laundering allegations against Heredia -- drawing an angry reaction from Humala, who accused them of playing politics with the justice system.
Chavez, the socialist firebrand who led oil-rich Venezuela for 14 years before his death in 2013, publicly backed Humala`s 2006 presidential bid, which the Peruvian leftist lost to former leader Alan Garcia.
In the 2011 race, which he won, Humala distanced himself from Chavez somewhat, saying his political models were more moderate leftists like Brazil`s President Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Heredia is tipped as a likely candidate for the race to succeed her husband in 2016.