Brazil’s Lula accused of influence peddling
Brazilian prosecutors on Monday accused former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of influence peddling, compounding the woes of a fallen political giant already charged in the Petrobras scandal.
The new charges allege that after leaving office in 2010 and until 2015, Lula helped the construction company Odebrecht win contracts in Angola.
Lula intervened with a government bank called BNDES so it would provide financing for Odebrecht projects in the southern African country, prosecutors said.
In return, Lula and 10 other suspects charged Monday in this case received Odebrecht shares that are currently worth a total of more than $9.3 million, the prosecutors’ office said.
Those 10 people include Marcelo Odebrecht, former chairman of the company that bears his name — it has also been linked to the Petrobras case — and Taiguara Rodrigues dos Santos, a nephew of Lula.
Lula had already been ordered to stand trial for alleged corruption and money laundering in the pay-to-play scandal at state-owned oil company Petrobras. He will also stand trial for obstruction of justice.
Lula’s lawyers insisted Monday that he is innocent, as they outlined the defense they will use in the Petrobras trial.
A legendary figure of the Latin American left, Lula has said he is willing to run for office again in 2018 to keep the right from taking power.
His successor Dilma Rousseff was impeached and removed from office this summer for violating budget rules.
She and Lula argue that the charges were trumped up to end more than 13 years of leftist Workers’ Party rule in the South American giant.
Rousseff was replaced by her former vice president Michel Temer of the center right PMDB party. He will serve until the 2018 vote.
The Workers’ Party was punished badly in recent municipal elections, losing two-thirds of the mayoral posts it had won in 2012.