Brasilia, Sep 15 (IANS) Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been charged in the Petrobras corruption scheme that cost the state oil company billions of dollars.
The charges of bribery and money laundering were levelled against Lula, his wife, Marisa Leticia, and seven other people, EFE news reported.
“Lula was the big boss of the Petrobras corruption scheme. Lula was on top of the power pyramid,” EFE news quoted prosecutor Deltan Dalagnol as saying at a news conference in Curitiba on Wednesday.
The prosecutors had been investigating whether Lula and his wife failed to declare ownership of a luxury penthouse in the seaside resort of Guaruja.
Lula has denied owning the flat and said the case was politically motivated.
The flat was built by the giant construction company OAS, one of the firms at the centre of the Petrobras scam.
OAS bought, refurbished and furnished the luxury three-story beachfront apartment for the former president, according to the federal prosecutor, who said Lula had made the down payment on the property located in Sao Paulo.
That same construction company also paid the rental fees for a warehouse where over a period of five years Lula stored the gifts he received during his 2003-2010 presidency, the prosecutor said.
The prosecutor said he had evidence Lula received around $1.1 million in benefits from construction company OAS.
The luxury penthouse is estimated to be worth up to $550,000.
The prosecutor said Petrobras’ total losses stemming from the inflated contracts amounted to roughly some $12.7 billion.
Attorneys for Lula, referring to the beachfront triplex, they said prosecutors had provided no evidence that the apartment in question belonged to Lula, adding that the former head of state had paid only one visit to the property when it was under construction and he was considering whether or not to purchase it.
A judge is due to rule in the next few days whether to formally charge Lula.