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New graft charges filed against Brazil’s Lula

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Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gestures during an interview with AFP at Lula’s Institute in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 1, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA

Brazilian prosecutors have filed new graft charges against imprisoned Workers’ Party founder and ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, as well as the party’s current chief.

Lula and Senator Gleisi Hoffmann, along with former Lula government ministers Antonio Palocci and Paulo Bernardo, allegedly were promised $40 million by corruption-riddled construction giant Odebrecht.

The fund “was in exchange for political decisions that would benefit the group,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement late Monday.

Workers’ Party politicians used the slush fund to finance campaigns, including Hoffmann’s failed 2014 run for governor of Parana state, it said.

Lula was jailed in April to start serving a 12-year sentence for accepting a seaside apartment as a bribe from another huge Brazilian construction company, OAS.

He faces six more graft cases but says he has been framed in order to prevent him from running in October’s presidential election, for which he leads opinion polls.

Hoffmann, leader of the Workers’ Party, said the new charges were “founded on unproven allegations.”

“In addition to being false, they don’t make sense, because they attempt to link decisions in 2010 with a campaign in 2014,” she tweeted.

The charges are part of operation “Car Wash,” Brazil’s biggest ever anti-graft crackdown. It has targeted several former presidents, current President Michel Temer and politicians from all major parties.

Investigators discovered that politicians and their parties were allegedly taking money from Odebrecht and other big companies in exchange for political favors and contracts with state oil company Petrobras.


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