ANOTHER BLOW

Brazil’s ex-president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has been formally accused of money laundering

Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was formally accused Wednesday (Mar. 9) of charges related to Brazil’s sweeping corruption probe.

The complaint was filed by São Paulo state prosecutors who had been investigating Lula for money laundering (link in Portuguese) through a beach apartment, which the ex-president’s family had an option to buy from building company OAS, according to a spokeswoman at the São Paulo state prosecutor’s office. The firm and its executives have been implicated (Portuguese) in a massive bribery scheme at Brazil’s oil company, Petrobras.

The spokeswoman confirmed that a complaint had been filed by the same prosecutors but declined to provide Quartz with details about the case. Local media reported that the ex-president is accused of money laundering, organized crime and concealment of assets.

José Chrispiniano, a spokesman for Lula’s charitable foundation, Instituto Lula, told Quartz the allegations are ridiculous given that Lula didn’t sleep a single night in the apartment. He and his wife invested in the building, but in the end decided not to exercise the option to buy it, he added.

“He didn’t have any reason to hide this apartment,” he said. “The fact is that in Brazil’s political climate there are a lot of people who want to prosecute Lula to appear in the press and try to avoid his running for president in 2018.”

The São Paulo probe has been running in parallel to Operação Lava Jato, or Operation Car Wash, the wide-ranging federal investigation into corruption and money laundering at Petrobras. Federal prosecutors have also been looking into whether OAS used the apartment to unduly favor Lula. Last week, they took him in for questioning and raided his home.

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