September 28, 2018 / 5:38 PM / in 22 days

Brazil presidential front-runner dismisses report he hid fortune

RIO DE JANEIRO/SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Right-wing Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro on Friday dismissed a news report that his ex-wife had accused him of concealing his fortune and stealing from her bank safe, attacking the media for trying to derail his campaign.

Weekly news magazine Veja, citing court documents, reported that Bolsonaro’s second wife accused him in 2008 in an acrimonious divorce filing of stealing nearly 1 million reais ($250,000) in cash and jewellery as well as underreporting his assets to electoral courts.

Reuters could not immediately verify the allegations.

“Once again, the usual parts of the media launch their latest attacks in a vain attempt to take me down,” Bolsonaro said on Twitter. “For years, they have tried to stop us with false criminal labels and distorted half truths.”

The former Army captain did not address the specific accusations in the news report.

Bolsonaro, who is in hospital recovering from a knife attack sustained while campaigning, could not immediately be reached by Reuters for comment.

When asked about the accusations against Bolsonaro, his media representative replied by questioning the political affiliations of a journalist involved in the report.

The allegations strike at the electoral strengths of the far-right congressman and frontrunner in opinion polls, who has pitched himself as a warrior against corruption in the capital Brasilia, where he has served for nearly three decades.

Brazil’s benchmark Bovespa stock index slipped 0.6 percent in midday trading, as traders cited the Veja report and a poll on Friday suggesting Bolsonaro could eventually lose the race to leftist Workers Party candidate Fernando Haddad.

Brazilian markets have moved in tandem with Bolsonaro’s electoral prospects in recent weeks, as many investors see him as the best chance to keep the Workers Party from returning to power after a devastating recession.

Veja reported that Bolsonaro’s former wife, Ana Cristina Siqueira Valle, presented his income tax filing as evidence in their divorce proceedings and filed a police report at the time regarding the alleged theft from her bank safe.

Their assets were eventually split along the lines she demanded, Veja said.

Valle, who is running for Congress, told Veja that she had made exaggerated claims during the divorce and preferred not to comment on the case.

Earlier this week, Valle denied a Folha de S.Paulo newspaper report, citing diplomatic cables, that she had fled Brazil for Norway in 2008 because of death threats from Bolsonaro, which he also denied.

“I get worked up and say nonsense,” she said, according to the Veja article.

Efforts to reach Valle through her political party were not immediately successful.

Reporting by Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro and Eduardo Simoes in Sao Paulo; Additional reporting by Paula Laier in Sao Paulo; Writing by Brad Haynes, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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