No proof ex-president Lula corrupt – Brazilian prosecutors

September 2, 2017 - 8:12 AM
Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (Reuters)

SAO PAULO — Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva should be cleared of any wrongdoing in one of several corruption cases pending against him in federal court due to a lack of evidence, prosecutors said on Friday.

The federal prosecutors said in a statement that former Senator Delcidio Amaral had lied about Lula, as one of the country’s most popular politicians is known, as part of a plea-bargain agreement.

His testimony was key to Lula’s legal entanglements, the statement added, saying Amaral himself should be put on trial for perjury.

Amaral has accused Lula of working with billionaire financier Andre Esteves to buy the silence of a top executive at Petroleo Brasileiro, the state-controlled oil company, about alleged corrupt acts committed by Lula.

The obstruction of justice case is one of five for which Lula is still expected to go on trial in federal court.

The prosecutors also recommended that charges against Esteves, the founder, former chief executive officer and largest shareholder in investment bank Grupo BTG Pactual SA, be dropped.

Lula’s legal team, in a written statement, welcomed the prosecutors’ statement as “just” and said it proved he never acted to obstruct justice. Amaral’s lawyer Eduardo Marzagao denied that his client had lied, however.

The former president was convicted in July in a separate case and sentenced to 9-1/2 years in prison for accepting 3.7 million reais ($1.18 million) worth of bribes from engineering firm OAS SA.

That ruling marked a stunning fall for Lula, a founder of the Workers Party, and a serious blow to his chances of a political comeback. The former union leader, who remains free pending an appeal, won global praise for policies to reduce inequality in Brazil.

The verdict represented the highest-profile conviction yet in a sweeping corruption investigation that has rattled Brazil for more than three years, revealing a sprawling system of graft at top levels of business and government.

More than 100 powerful business and political figures have been found guilty since the anti-graft push began in early 2014.

Brazil’s lower house of Congress voted last month to reject a corruption charge against current President Michel Temer for allegedly taking bribes, sparing him from facing a possible Supreme Court trial that could have ousted him from office.

More corruption charges are expected to filed in the coming weeks against Temer, Rodrigo Janot, Brazil’s prosecutor general, has said.