Latin America & Caribbean

Peru angry at UN for hiring ex-first lady Heredia amid probe

Ollanta Humala and Nadine Heredia arrive for the Business Forum, within the X Pacific Alliance Summit, in Paracas, 250 km south of Lima, on July 2, 2015. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ollanta Humala and Nadine Heredia are under investigation for alleged money laundering

The Peruvian government has expressed anger at the appointment of former First Lady Nadine Heredia to a post with the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Ms Heredia and her husband Ollanta Humala, a left-winger who was president until July, are being investigated for suspected money laundering.

Peruvian officials say her nomination interferes with their investigation.

Ms Heredia and Mr Humala have denied wrongdoing.

'Interference'

"We see this as interference in a public investigation of enormous national sensitivity," Foreign Affairs Minister Ricardo Luna told local radio.

He asked the FAO to reconsider the appointment, arguing that it "could be interpreted as interference in a judicial investigation in Peru".

In June, Ms Heredia was banned from leaving Peru for four months, in a move she called "excessive".

The investigation into alleged money laundering began when Ms Heredia was still First Lady.

Investigators allege that she and her husband received illicit funds from the government of Venezuela and Brazilian construction companies to fund Mr Humala's 2006 and 2011 presidential campaigns.

Mr Humala was president from 2011 until July 2016 and is currently in Peru, where he has to sign in to court once a month while the investigation continues.

His successor in office, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, last month announced a crackdown on corruption in government.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption During her time as First Lady, Ms Heredia promoted Peruvian agriculture

Ms Heredia left Peru for Europe on Tuesday and is expected to take up her UN job in December, Peruvian media reported.

The FAO chose Ms Heredia to head their liaison office in the Swiss city of Geneva.

According to the FAO website, the liaison office "is the face of FAO in Geneva and seeks to participate in relevant policy debates, to strengthen partnerships with sister organizations".

In a statement, the FAO said that the appointment of Ms Heredia was "transparent applying ordinary competitive procedures and based on a rigorous selection process",

Ms Heredia served as the FAO's Special Ambassador for the International Year of Quinoa in 2013, promoting the use of the Andean plant which has been recognised as a "supercrop" by the UN.

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