Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva – widely known as Lula – was accused by a federal prosecutor on Wednesday with being the main organizer of the huge Petrobras graft scheme that has crippled the state oil firm, shamed the political class and brought international embarrassment on the nation.
The scheme essentially involved Petrobras officials taking bribes from contractors in return for inflated contracts which cost the company billions of dollars. And a raft of politicians, mostly from Lula’s Workers Party received kickbacks for looking away or facilitating the corruption.
Charges of bribery and money laundering were laid against Lula, his wife, Marisa Leticia, and seven other people.
In levelling the charge, the prosecutor said he had evidence Lula received around $1.1 million in benefits from construction company OAS.
He also said the estimated cost of the overall scheme is $12.6bn, way more than the $2.1bn that appeared in Petrobras’ official accounts.
Lula’s lawyers and defenders say the prosecution cannot be substantiated and is part of a political vendetta.