Federal prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol accused former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of being the “mastermind of a corruption scheme in Operation Car Wash.”
Dallagnol made the statement during a press conference in which the task force of the Federal Prosecution Service (MPF), which is responsible for the operation, gave details on the complaint involving Lula, his wife, Marisa Letícia, and six other people.
The former president was charged by the federal court with passive corruption and money laundering. For both crimes, the penalty can be up to 32 years and six months in prison.
According to federal prosecutors, Lula received undue benefits from companies involved in Petrobras corruption scandal, like the acquisition, renovation work and refurbishment of a triplex in Guarujá, on the coast of São Paulo in addition to million-dollar contracts for personal property storage.
Altogether, Lula allegedly received at least US$ 1.112 million in benefits. Dallagnol pointed out that the corruption scheme probed by the operation is systemic and involves several governments and parties.
According to the prosecutor, a “bribocracy” is run in Brazil, in which the executive and legislative branches exchange favors, political appointments and positions for “corrupt governance, illegal perpetuation in power, and illicit enrichment.”
For Dallagnol, the system is funded by cartels that benefit from the scheme by signing millionaire contracts with the government.
According to the complaint, prosecutors accumulate 14 evidences that Lula is the “commander-in-chief” of the corruption scandal. The task force referred to other corruption scandals, like the payment of bribes to legislators to support Lula’s government during his first years in office. That scheme is known as “Mensalão” (the big monthly allowance).
“Even after José Dirceu [Chief of Staff in 2005] left office and the Workers’ Party treasurer was changed, the criminal system continued with “Petrolão” [money embezzled through Petrobras contracts]. This indicated that there was a common point and Lula is this common point,” declared Dallagnol.
Lines of Investigation
According to Dallagnol, the charges filed Wednesday pursue three lines of investigation, all of which implicating former President Lula.
The first concerns the three contracts signed from 2006 to 2012 between OAS and Petrobras in connection with refineries Repar and Renest.
According to the prosecutor, the construction company availed itself of cartelization to win the bid, with the payment of bribes received by many, including Lula.
In this stage of the proceedings, the Federal Prosecution Service is charging Lula with passive corruption and Léo Pinheiro, former OAS president, and onetime executive at construction firm Agenor Medeiros, with active corruption.
The second part of the allegations regards the acquisition, renovation work and refurbishment of a triplex in Guarujá. The prosecutors showed evidence that the apartment was purchased by Lula and Marisa through OAS, which was also in charge of the renovation and decoration. The illicit benefits allegedly total over US$ 721 thousand.
As for the last line of investigation, prosecutors report that OAS kept Lula’s personal goods stowed through storage contracts. According to the prosecutors, the company made successive payments adding up to US$ 390 thousand, benefiting Lula, from 2011 to 2016. Also charged in this stage are Paulo Okamotto, head of the Lula Institute, and Léo Pinheiro, also with money laundering.
The charged are to be sent to Judge Sérgio Moro in a federal court in Curitiba for further deliberation. Should the allegations be accepted by Moro, Lula, Marisa, and the other accused will officially become defendants under the operation.
The defense attorneys of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his wife Marisa Letícia rejected the charges filed against the couple by prosecutors working in Operation Car Wash, a massive investigation into the Petrobras corruption scandal.
In a press statement, the lawyers maintained that a triplex apartment in the beach city of Guarujá, São Paulo, does not belong to Lula and Marisa, but to OAS construction company.
Federal prosecutors allege that Lula received improper advantages from companies in the Petrobras corruption scheme, including the beach apartment, which, according to them, had its renovation paid by OAS.
The company is also accused of signing contracts in the millions to store the former president’s personal property. These advantages are allegedly worth more than US$ 1.1 million altogether.
“The fact remains that Lula and Marisa are not the owners of the apartment, it belongs to OAS,” say the former president’s defenders. According to them, the prosecution “has singled out Lula as the ‘conductor of a criminal orchestra’, but forgot the most important—presenting evidence of wrongdoing.”
In the opinion of lawyers, the charges are an “affront to the democratic rule of law and the intelligence of Brazilians.” They say Lula has been under relentless scrutiny ever since Operation Car Wash began, but nothing was found.
“So they came up with this farcical story. Lula’s crime for Operation Car Wash [investigators] was being Brazil’s president,” they said.
According to Cristiano Martins, lawyer of the former president and his wife, the accusations against their clients have a political motivation, they are intended to prevent Lula from running for president in 2018.
For the lawyer, “there is a situation of persecution and, more than that, real intention of knocking former president Lula out of the political and election scene for 2018,” he said.