SAO PAULO – Brazilian federal prosecutors filed a new corruption and money laundering complaint against former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, accusing him of receiving bribes in exchange for helping construction giant Odebrecht secure contracts with state oil company Petrobras.
The Attorney General’s Office also filed charges against eight other people, including Lula’s wife, Marisa Letizia Lula da Silva; Odebrecht’s former CEO, the now-imprisoned Marcelo Odebrecht; and a former finance minister during Lula’s 2003-2010 administration, Antonio Palocci.
The bribes allegedly paid by Odebrecht in connection with eight contracts secured with Petrobras totaled 75 million reais ($22.5 million) and included a 12.5-million-reais plot of land for construction of the headquarters of the Lula Institute, a Sao Paulo-based non-governmental organization headed by the former head of state.
Prosecutors also say the construction giant paid a bribe in the form of a 500,000-reais apartment near Lula’s private residence in Sao Bernardo do Campo, a seaside town in the Sao Paulo metropolitan region.
The latest charges coincide with the publication of an article Thursday by financial daily Valor Economico, which said Marcelo Odebrecht told investigators as part of a plea deal that his company paid Lula 23 million reais in bribes.
Dozens of other executives with that Salvador, Brazil-based construction giant also have entered into plea deals.
Marcelo Odebrecht was sentenced in March to 19 years in prison after being convicted of corruption in a massive bribes-for-inflated contracts scheme centered on Petrobras.
Investigators say his company and other major Brazilian construction groups formed a cartel to overcharge the oil giant, splitting the extra money with corrupt Petrobras officials while setting aside some of the loot to pay off politicians who provided cover for the graft.
Palocci, a key figure in the Cabinets of both Lula and his protege and successor, Dilma Rousseff, was arrested in September in Sao Paulo on charges of receiving bribes from Odebrecht in exchange for intervening to benefit the company in bidding processes with the government.
Prior to this latest criminal complaint, Lula was already facing trial in three cases involving his alleged acceptance of gifts from construction companies and a purported attempt to pay off a witness in the sprawling, $2 billion Petrobras corruption case.