RIO DE JANEIRO – A Brazilian judge accepted Friday to open a fresh trial against Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva – the fourth case naming the former president as defendant – on charges of influence-peddling, money laundering and criminal association.
The complaint by the prosecution was upheld by Brazilian federal judge Vallinsney Souza Oliveira, who also admitted charges against one of the ex-president’s sons, Luiz Claudio Lula da Silva, informed his office Friday.
The complaint is the result of investigations carried out as part of the so-called “Operation Zelotes” which is probing alleged irregularities in the Administrative Council of Tax Appeals (CARF), the government agency responsible for imposing fines on tax evaders.
According to the prosecution, Lula – when he was no longer president – interceded before his goddaughter and successor Dilma Rousseff to have the government extend a tax incentive favoring automaker companies.
It is alleged that in exchange for the favor, two consultants hired by the automobile industry deposited around 706,000 euros ($737,876) in a bank account belonging to his son.
The prosecution maintains that Lula’s promise of exerting his influence in the government benefited his son Luiz Claudio, reads the complaint admitted by the judge.
In the same complaint, Lula is also accused of meddling in order for the open tender for purchase of 36 fighter-bomber jets to be awarded to Swedish company Saab.
However, in a statement issued last week, his lawyers Cristiano Zanin Martins and Roberto Teixeira denied Lula or his son had anything to do or even any knowledge of events related to the fighter jet acquisition, or the extension of tax benefits for automakers.
In fact, they further said the charges against Lula “call into question” the Brazilian Armed Forces who were responsible for choosing Saab, and even “attack” the Parliament which extended the incentives for the vehicle industry.
The judicial status of Lula – the most popular president in the country’s history – has become complicated in recent months as he is being investigated in several cases with four judges so far having accepted opening legal proceedings against him.
In two previous cases, he is accused of corruption, and a third says he tried to silence a witness who indicated him as one of the ringleaders of a corruption scandal that rocked state-run oil giant Petrobras.