Brazil’s former President Luiz Lula facing additional corruption charge

BRASILIA, Brazil, Oct. 6 (UPI) — Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, former president of Brazil, faces an additional corruption charge related to the Petrobras bribery scandal, his lawyer said.

In a statement on Facebook, Lula said he “acted within the law” over accusations he helped a relative of his ex-wife win a construction contract for the Oderbrecht construction company in the west African country of Angola.

Lula said his lawyers would “analyze the document from the federal police, which was leaked by the media and revealed in a sensational way before the defense had access,” adding that the accusations against him are also a “media massacre … to try and destroy the image of the most popular president in the country’s history.”

In September, Judge Sergio Moro, the head of the Brazilian government’s Operation Car Wash investigation into Petrobras, said there was “sufficient evidence” of Lula’s responsibility in the 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. 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, also failed to declare to authorities a $550,000 luxury penthouse in the Guaruja resort. Lula has denied owning the penthouse and said allegations against him are politically motivated.

The apartment was built by Oderbrecht — implicated in the Petrobras scandal in which overpriced contracts were given in return for bribes, authorities said.

Overall, Lula is accused of accepting at least $1.1 million in bribes related to Petrobras.

Lula was former President Dilma Rousseff‘s political mentor, handpicking her as his successor. She was removed from the presidency through impeachment on Aug. 31. Lula has 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.

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