BRASILIA, Brazil, Sept. 15 (UPI) — Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, former president of Brazil, is facing corruption charges filed by federal prosecutors who accuse him of taking part in the Petrobras bribery scandal.
Prosecutors allege Lula, 70, was the “big boss” behind the corruption scandal involving Petrobras, a semi-public oil and gas company, that led to $12.6 billion in losses.
A federal judge has been investigating the massive corruption scandal and Lula, who served as president of Brazil from 2003 until 2010, was questioned in March over allegations of money laundering in deals with construction companies.
Prosecutors allege Lula and his wife, Marisa Leticia, failed to declare to authorities a $550,000 luxury penthouse in the Guaruja resort. Lula has denied owning the penthouse, adding the “deplorable spectacle” against him is politically motivated.
The apartment was built by a construction company implicated in the Petrobras scandal in which overpriced contracts were given in return for bribes, authorities said.
“Lula was the big boss of the Petrobras corruption scheme. Lula was on top of the power pyramid,” federal prosecutor Deltan Dalagnol said at a press conference on Wednesday, O Globo reports. “Lula appointed several senior executives at Petrobras so that they could raise funds for political parties in the governing coalition … Without Lula’s decision power, it would be impossible for this scheme to exist.”
Six others are also facing charges related to Lula’s case, including executives from the OAS construction company implicated in the bribery scandal.
Lula was Dilma Rousseff‘s political mentor, handpicking her as his successor. She was removed from the presidency through impeachment on Aug. 31. Lula previously declared his intention to run for president in 2018.
Rousseff previously named Lula her chief of staff, which shielded him from prosecution until she was impeached.