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Prosecutors in Brazil file charges against Lula

March 10, 2016

Prosecutors in Brazil have asked that former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva be placed under formal investigation. Lula has been accused of corruption in connection with an undeclared beachside residence.

Brasilien ehemaliger Präsident Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Image: Reuters/R. Moraes

Sao Paulo state prosecutors filed charges against Lula in connection with an alleged money laundering investigation, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

The spokesman declined to specify the exact charges, but prosecutors have said they believe Lula's family may have owned a beachside apartment in the city of Guaruja.

The 70-year-old, who was president between 2003 and 2010, was briefly detained last Friday after a morning raid on his home in greater Sao Paulo's Sao Bernardo do Campo district.

Lula was not formally arrested and was released after four hours of questioning. However, the headquarters of his nonprofit foundation Instituto Lula was also searched, as well as properties connected to his sons and other family members.

Officials at the time said they were investigating payments of some 30 million Brazilian reais ($8.12 million, 7.4 million euros) made in return for speeches and donations to the institute.

Sweeteners for contracts

Among the firms linked to Lula and his properties are crucial players connected to the Petrobras corruption scandal, which has rocked the Brazilian establishment and the government of President Dilma Rousseff.

Brazil's biggest company, Petrobras is in charge of tapping big offshore oil fields and creating wealth that Brazil's leaders had hoped might power the country's development.

However, prosecutors allege that more than $2 billion (1.82 billion euros) was paid in bribes by businessmen to obtain lucrative Petrobras contracts. Investigators also have said some of the money made its way to several political parties, including 70-year-old Silva's own Workers' Party.

rc/sms (AFP, Reuters)