(Updates with details of allegations, prior charges, context)
By Brad Brooks
SAO PAULO Oct 10 Corruption charges against
former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva piled up on
Monday as prosecutors accused him and Marcelo Odebrecht, ex-CEO
of engineering group Odebrecht SA, in an alleged bribery scheme
related to contracts in Angola.
Lula already faced several other charges related to a
sweeping kickback probe at state-run oil company Petrobras
, and Odebrecht is serving a 19-year sentence after
his conviction on other corruption allegations in the
The new charges come amid expectations that Odebrecht -
Latin America's largest construction conglomerate - is on the
cusp of signing a leniency deal with prosecutors that would see
its former CEO and dozens of other executives turn state's
Prosecutors have said the Odebrecht group, with its global
reach and powerful connections inside Brazil, was at the heart
of the long-running corruption scheme. Testimony from its
executives could significantly expand the Petrobras probe, lead
to new investigations and implicate more politicians.
Brazil's top prosecutor Rodrigo Janot is investigating 66
politicians - many sitting lawmakers - for alleged participation
in the Petrobras scheme, a number that could grow significantly
with possible testimony from Odebrecht executives.
To date, nearly 200 executives and former politicians have
been charged in the Petrobras probe and 83 have already been
found guilty. Prosecutors are seeking 38 billion reais ($12
billion) in damages from companies and individuals involved.
Federal prosecutors in Brasilia said the latest charges are
related to alleged crimes carried out from "at least" 2008 -
when Lula was still president - until 2015.
They allege Lula used his influence while in office to
secure financing from Brazil's state development bank BNDES for
undisclosed Odebrecht projects in Angola - and that Odebrecht in
return paid 30 million reais in kickbacks to Lula and others.
Lawyers for Lula did not immediately respond to a request
Prosecutors also said in their statement they are looking
into Odebrecht projects elsewhere in Africa and Latin America to
see if the company received low-interest BNDES loans in the same
manner as the alleged scheme in Angola.
Lula was charged on Monday with corruption, influence
peddling and money laundering - the latter of which prosecutors
say they found on 44 occasions, often by Odebrecht paying
inflated prices to subcontractor Exergia Brasil, which was run
by a Lula confidant who was also charged in the case.
It is now up to a federal judge in Brasilia whether or not
to accept the prosecutor' charges against Lula and the others
and put them on trial.
Lula had already been charged twice for various counts of
corruption in connection with a massive anti-graft investigation
centered on state oil company Petrobras, known formally as
Petroleo Brasileiro SA.
Sergio Moro, a crusading anti-corruption judge in southern
Brazil, has ruled that Lula will stand for at least one set of
those charges. The trial date has not been set.
Prosecutors wrote in their Monday indictment that Lula also
received kickbacks for an unspecified sum from Odebrecht for
delivering lectures to business leaders abroad, although it is
not clear if the speeches actually took place.
"It is suspected that ... those contracts and payments, in
truth, were only to conceal the real reason behind Odebrecht's
payments to ex-President Lula," the document read.
($1 = 3.22 reais)
(Reporting by Brad Brooks; Editing by Andrew Hay)