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Poll: Popularity of Peru's Humala Sinks to New Low

Peru's President Ollanta Humala speaks during a media conference after signing a visa waiver agreement with the EU on the sidelines of the EU-CELAC summit in Brussels, June 10, 2015

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala's approval rating sank this month to its lowest level during his four-year term, dragged down by criticism of his wife's finances, according to an Ipsos poll.

Humala's popularity fell four percentage points to 17 percent, a fresh low for the former military officer who hopes to implement new economic reforms in his last year in office.

The approval rating for First Lady Nadine Heredia dropped six percentage points to 15 percent, according to the Ipsos poll published in local newspaper El Comercio on Sunday.

Heredia, Humala's adviser and the charismatic leader of his party, once consistently scored higher on popularity polls than her husband.

The Ipsos poll was conducted amid revelations in local media that Heredia received $87,0000 from a Venezuelan company in 2005 to help finance her and her husband's Nationalist Party, and that in recent years she helped run up $38,000 in shopping expenses on a friend's credit card.

Her detractors have suggested that the Venezuelan company was a front for the government of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and her shopping sprees part of a money-laundering operation.

Heredia has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing or funding from the Venezuelan government. Humala has said criticism of his wife's finances is part of a smear campaign ahead of 2016 elections.

Humala and Heredia are both constitutionally barred from running in 2016 and their party has yet to announce a presidential candidate.

Earlier this month, the judiciary ordered the main part of an investigation of Heredia's finances that had leaked documents to local media closed, potentially ending the scandal.

Nevertheless, the director of Ipsos in Peru, Alfredo Torres, said the scandal has hit Humala's rating.

"The result of the constant legal and journalistic reports on Heredia and those who surround her is that the main reason for presidential disapproval is now corruption," Torres said.

Former presidents in Peru have governed with approval ratings even lower than 17 percent.

Ipsos surveyed 1,178 people in its poll between June 8 and 11. The survey had a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points and a 95 percent level of confidence.