Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva‘s corruption charges came after a two-year investigation by Brazilian authorities.
On September 14, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, his wife, Marisa Letícia Lula da Silva, and his Workers’ Party were officially charged with corruption.
Deltan Dallagnol, a public prosecutor, held a press conference where he explained that his office has evidence that Lula da Silva and his entourage took part in an elaborate scheme that caused an estimated $12.6 billion in losses to Petrobras.
Dallagnol is the head of the much-talked about Operation Carwash, an anti-corruption investigation based in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba. Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. is a semi-public Brazilian multinational corporation in the petroleum industry, which was involved in the country’s biggest corruption scandal that erupted in 2014. Here is more information on the scandal:
“According to the investigation, a small number of top Petrobras officials colluded with an organized cartel of 16 companies to overcharge Petrobras for construction and service work, and these top officials received bribes and kickbacks. Petrobras officials have pegged the total of all bribes at nearly $3 billion. As of August 2015, 117 indictments have been issued, 5 politicians have been arrested, and criminal cases have been brought against 13 companies. Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff, who promised to reduce corruption during her election campaign, and former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, both of whom served on the board of directors of Petrobras during the scandals, have both been blamed. This has sparked protests in Brazil.”
Dallagnol claimed that the former leader received $1.11 million in bribes, including a luxury apartment on the coast of São Paulo from one of the engineering and construction firms. Dallagnol said that the ex-president was the “maximum commander” of a vast corruption scheme at the state oil company, and added:
“Lula, was being charged with corruption and money laundering as part of the scheme. He was the conductor of this criminal orchestra. The Petrobras graft scheme aimed at keeping the Workers’ party in power by criminal means.”
A lawyer for the former president said in a statement that prosecutors lacked evidence to back up their accusations, which were part of a political persecution to stop him from running in the 2018 election. The 70-year-old politician has not ruled out running again for president in 2018, but a criminal conviction would bar him from being a candidate for the next eight years.
Lula da Silva has been indicted by a court in Brasília for obstruction of justice “in a case related to an attempt to persuade a defendant in the Petrobras scandal not to turn state’s witness.” Recent polls showed that despite the investigations and the scandals, Lula would be a favorite to win the next presidential election.
The scandal damaged the Workers’ Party and caused its fall from power last month. Lula’s chosen successor, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached by Congress on unrelated charges of breaking budget rules.