Brazil police recommend graft charges against ex-president Lula: newspaper

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 26, 2016 12:09 PM

By Eduardo Simões and Daniel Flynn

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Federal police in Brazil have recommended that prosecutors bring corruption charges against former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his wife in relation to a luxury apartment in the beach resort of Guaruja, a source familiar with the investigation said on Friday.

The investigation into the popular predecessor and mentor of President Dilma Rousseff forms part of a sweeping anti-corruption probe into political kickbacks from contracts at state oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) during the rule of Lula's left-wing Workers Party.

Estado de S. Paulo newspaper had reported earlier on Friday that federal police in the southern city of Curitiba accuse Lula and his wife of receiving some 2.4 million reais ($747,896.54) in benefits from construction company OAS in relation to the apartment.

Police alleged that the luxury apartment in Guaruja, in Sao Paulo state, which was bought and refurbished by OAS, was for all intents and purposes a gift to Lula and his family.

A spokesperson for Lula had no immediate comment.

The source, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, said police had also recommended charges against three other people in the case, including the former chief executive of OAS, Jose Aldemario "Leo" Pinheiro.

OAS is among 31 builders that allegedly colluded to rig contracts at Petrobras. Pinheiro has already been convicted in the corruption probe and local newspapers have reported he is preparing to name Lula in a plea bargain deal with prosecutors.

A lawyer for Pinheiro has declined to comment.

Friday's request by the police is the latest in a series of legal headaches for the former president and it comes as Rousseff is on trial in the Senate on charges of breaking budgetary laws.

Rousseff, who denies any wrongdoing, is expected to be dismissed from office next week.

Last week, a Federal Supreme Court justice authorized the opening of an investigation into Rousseff and Lula for allegedly working to obstruct the course of the corruption probe, GloboNews news channel reported.

In late July, a federal court ruled that Lula will also stand trial for obstruction of justice for his alleged attempt to stop a jailed former Petrobras executive from collaborating with investigators.

(Reporting by Eduardo Simoes; Additional reporting by Daniel Flynn and Maria Pia Sica Palermo; Editing by Reese Ewing and Tom Brown)