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Brazil’s ex-president faces fresh R$4 million laundering charge

By Dan Byrne

New money laundering charges are being filed against Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, merely ten months after he was freed from jail.

Commonly known throughout Brazil as Lula, the ex-president left office in 2010 but remained active in politics.

He is charged with laundering R$4 million (€638,000) in the period between September 2013 and March 2014.

The funds are alleged to have been disguised as donations from construction company Odebrecht to the Lula Institute – a non-profit which Lula founded in 2011 once his term as president finished.  

However, prosecutors say these donations were merely kickbacks intended to help Odebrecht acquire contacts from state-run oil company Petrobas.

Brazil’s former finance minister Antionio Palocci and Lula Institute president Paulo Okamotto have also been charged with the same crime.

According to Brazilian news outlet R7, Attorney General Aslessandro Oliveria claims extensive evidence exists to support the charges, including spreadsheets, records of communications and payment vouchers.

Oliveria co-ordinates the task force for Operação Lava Jato, or ‘Operation Car Wash’ – a national investigation into financial fraud worth billions of reals, which has led to over 165 convictions since it began in 2014.

Lula was released from jail in November 2019 while appealing another case being made against him. At the time, the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court ruled that he couldn’t be imprisoned until those appeals had concluded.

Lula tweeted his objection to the accusations on Monday evening, claiming they were “excessive and frivolous.”

“They have the objective of retaining the enemy in an accusation network, aiming to remove his time and tarnish his reputation,” he said.

R7 reported that Lula’s defence lawyers are surprised by the further charges made by the ‘Car Wash’ task force without any evidence to support them.

“Such donations, which ‘Car Wash’ says were hidden, are duly documented by means of receipts issued by the Lula Institute – which is not to be confused with the person of the ex-president,” they said in a statement.

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