BRASILIA – The Brazilian federal judge who found former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva guilty on corruption charges issued an order Wednesday freezing four bank accounts belonging to the 71-year-old politician.
The affected accounts hold a total of 606,727 reais ($192,002), banking regulators said.
Judge Sergio Moro said the purpose of the freeze was to ensure Lula’s ability to pay any fines that may be imposed on the former head of state if the conviction is upheld.
A week ago, Moro sentenced the man who governed Brazil from 2003-2011 to nine years and six months in prison in connection with the massive corruption scandal centered on state oil company Petrobras.
Moro found Lula guilty of having accepted services valued at 3.7 million reais ($1.1 million) from a construction company that benefited from contracts with Petrobras.
The charges rest on the claim that Lula was the real owner of a beachfront triplex near Sao Paulo registered in the name of OAS, one of the engineering companies implicated in bribing Petrobras executives to secure inflated contracts and diverting some of the extra money to politicians who provided cover for the graft.
Lula allegedly accepted renovations to the luxury apartment as a reward for giving OAS the inside track on government contracts.
The ex-president, who remains Brazil’s most popular politician, denies that he ever owned the apartment, much less benefited from improvements to the property.
Though he still faces several other corruption trials, Lula will remain eligible to run for president next year until and unless a conviction is upheld on appeal, something unlikely to happen before mid-2018 at the earliest.
Brazilian lawmakers are set to vote Aug. 2 on whether to allow a criminal case to proceed against incumbent President Michel Temer, who is accused of accepting bribes from meatpacking giant JBS and of encouraging that company to pay hush money to a former top lawmaker convicted earlier this year in connection with the Petrobras scheme.
Those allegations stem from plea-bargain testimony by JBS executives, including an audio recording in which Temer appears to tell company chairman Joesley Batista that payments to the former speaker of Brazil’s lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, needed to continue to prevent him from turning state’s evidence.
Temer has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
JBS executives also have told prosecutors as part of plea-bargain testimony that the company provided tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions to Temer’s two immediate predecessors, Dilma Rousseff – ousted by Congress last year on dubious grounds – and Lula.