Brazilian prosecutors have charged former national president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva with money laundering and misrepresentation in regards to the ever-growing Petrobras corruption scandal.
The former leader of the ruling Workers Party, widely known simply as Lula, had been detained last week during a series of raids in Sao Paulo at addresses associated with him and his family.
Sao Paulo prosecutors’ charge of misrepresentation relates to allegations that Lula deliberately and repeatedly took measures to hide his ownership of luxury beachfront property in Guaruja.
Next a judge must decide whether or not to accept the charges and move forward with the case.
The seemingly inexhaustible scandal has seen nearly two years of escalating revelations about how the state oil firm Petrobras was fleeced out of billions of dollars by conspiracies between some of its own executives, contractor firms and politicians.
Corrupt Petrobras executives colluded with contractors to approve inflated contracts, then skimmed off their cut. Other kickbacks helped politicians, almost all in the Workers Party, turn a blind eye.
Lula, who stepped down as president in 2010, was released shortly after last Friday’s arrest and issued defiant statements of his innocence while his supporters, of whom there are still many, alleged that his accusers had political motives.
With things closing in on Lula now it seems more possible than ever that his successor and current national president Dilma Rousseff, herself a former chairwoman of Petrobras from 2003-2010, is dragged into the quagmire.