Brazil ex-president Lula investigated for corruption

By 08:31 Fri, 17 Jul 2015 Comments

Federal prosecutors in Brazil have opened a formal inquiry into possible “influence peddling” by former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The investigation will look into whether Lula improperly used his connections overseas to benefit Latin America’s largest engineering firm, Odebrecht.

In May, prosecutors in the capital Brasilia said they had opened a preliminary investigation into the matter, saying the former leader had frequently travelled abroad at Odebrecht’s expense after leaving office, from 2011 until 2014.

The inquiry announced on Thurday puts the legacy of one of Brazil’s most popular former leaders on the line at a time when some are calling for the impeachment of his chosen successor, President Dilma Rousseff, for alleged campaign finance irregularities.

A spokeswoman for Lula’s institute, the Instituto Lula, said the institute was surprised by the news, and thought the inquiry had been escalated too quickly, the Reuters news agency said. She added that Lula’s travels were completely legal.

In their preliminary inquiry, prosecutors cited media reports that Brazil-based Odebrecht had won contracts in countries including the Dominican Republic and Cuba after Lula met with their leaders, travelling at Odebrecht’s expense.

Lula may have also improperly influenced Luciano Coutinho, president of the state-run development bank BNDES, when it approved loans for Odebrecht projects abroad, prosecutors said.



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