Brazil’s Lula Caught in Eye of Corruption Storm

2
Luiz In√°cio da Silva, aka Lula, used to be the Americas' most popular president.
Luiz In√°cio “Lula” da Silva used to be the most popular president in the Americas. (Escambray)

Espa√ĪolBrazilian Federal Police is investigating whether former President Luiz In√°cio da Silva (2003-2010), best known as Lula, committed crimes related to the Petrobras¬†scandal, the¬†largest corruption scheme¬†in Brazil’s history.

Investigators suspect that Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction firm indicted for paying bribes to secure contracts, built the headquarters of the President Lula Institute (IL) run by the former head of state.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

Federal police chief Filipe Hille highlighted in a report that a message seized from the Odebrecht CEO’s phone contained the phrase “Building (IL)” and the figure¬†BR$12 million (US$2.9 million).

[adrotate group=”7″]”If ‘Building (IL)’ refers to the Lula Institue, the most plausible conclusion would be that the Odebrecht group paid for the construction of the headquarters and other buildings in other properties belonging to Luiz In√°cio Lula da Silva,‚Ä̬†wrote¬†Hille.

The line of investigation will determine whether Odebrecht built the Lula Institute headquarters in S√£o Paulo.

For its part, the Lula Institute assured that it was founded in 2011 and began operating in the same headquarters that formerly belonged to the Citizenship Institute and before that to the Workers’ Studies and Reasearch Institute. It claimed it has “never built any building in the area.”

Police Arrest Campaign Advisor to Lula, Rousseff, Maduro, and Ch√°vez

On Tuesday, February 23, the federal police arrested Joao Santana, Lula’s¬†former¬†campaign manager, for his alleged involvement in the Petrobras scheme. He had also worked in¬†the presidential campaigns of current Brazilian leader¬†Dilma Rousseff and of Venezuelan presidents Nicol√°s Maduro and Hugo Ch√°vez.

Santana was in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, advising President Danilo Medina’s reelection campaign when the Brazilian federal police ordered his arrest and that of his seventh wife and business partner, M√≥nica Moura, on Monday.

Brazilian prosecutors believe that Joao Santana received US$7.5 million in bribes from Odebrecht and a former Petrobras lobbyist, Zwi Skornicki.

The police claims that, between April 2012 and March 2013, Odebrecht transferred around US$3 million to an undeclared foreign bank account belonging to Santana and his wife. Likewise, Skornicki allegedly deposited at least US$4.5 million between September 2013 and November 2014.

During that time, Santana and his wife¬†coordinated campaign efforts for the ruling Workers’ Party (PT).

Santana’s lawyers have argued that the money in foreign accounts comes from legitimate services performed¬†outside Brazil.

The Petrobras corruption scheme involves some of Brazil’s largest¬†companies, which paid bribes to officials and politicians in the form of campaign contributions¬†and construction works in return for inflated contracts with the state oil firm.

Sources: El Comercio, Página Siete.

Translated by Daniel Duarte.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Sign up here to get the latest news, updates and special reports delivered directly to your inbox.
You can unsubscribe at any time