Brazil ex-president Lula faces more graft charges

SAO PAULO • Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, his wife and a former finance minister were issued more corruption charges on Thursday in the investigation of graft at a state-run oil company.

It is up to federal judge Sergio Moro to decide if the new charges will result in another trial for Mr Lula. The former president is already accused in Judge Moro's court in southern Brazil of separate corruption counts. A ruling on those charges is not expected before late next month or early February.

Mr Lula faces another trial on graft charges in a Brasilia court, but a start date has not been set.

Mr Lula's lawyers have repeatedly said that he is innocent of all accusations. In an e-mailed statement on Thursday night, lawyer Cristiano Martins called the latest charges "a work of fiction".

Prosecutors said in a statement that Mr Lula oversaw a scheme in which Latin America's biggest construction firm, Odebrecht, paid 75 million reals (S$32.2 million) in bribes to win eight Petrobras contracts. Prosecutors added that Mr Lula orchestrated the appointment of Petrobras executives who would carry out the kickback scheme, with the money being funnelled back into the campaign coffers of Mr Lula's Workers Party and its allies.

Mr Lula's wife Marisa was also charged in the case with money laundering, while his former finance minister Antonio Palocci was charged with corruption and money laundering. Both already face separate charges and trials in the Petrobras case.

Prosecutors said part of the illicit money made its way to Mr Lula and his wife and that they benefited by surreptitiously using Odebrecht money to purchase and renovate real estate.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2016, with the headline 'Brazil ex-president Lula faces more graft charges'. Print Edition | Subscribe