BRASILIA – A Brazilian judge ordered on Tuesday that the institute founded by former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva suspend its operations.
The ruling was made by federal Judge Ricardo Augusto Soares Leite, who is overseeing one of the five prosecutions Lula faces for alleged corruption.
The decision has been conveyed to the courts in Sao Paulo, where the Lula Institute is headquartered, with an instruction to ensure that the order takes effect within three days, Leite said.
Leite is the magistrate in charge of a case against Lula for obstruction of justice based on allegations that he tried to buy the silence of former executives of state oil company Petrobras, the focal point of a metastasizing corruption scandal involving scores of politicians and business leaders.
The judge said he decided to sideline the Lula Institute because he suspected its involvement in the former president’s alleged crimes.
Founded in 2011, at the end of Lula’s second four-year term as president, the institute has consistently denied any wrongdoing, but declined to comment on Leite’s order pending official notification.
Leite’s ruling comes on the eve of Lula’s first court appearance before federal Judge Sergio Moro, the prime mover in the massive Lava Jato (Car wash) corruption probe.
Lula, who remains a towering figure in Brazilian politics and is hoping to run in next year’s presidential election, has been accused of being the lead orchestrator of the Petrobras corruption scheme, which is estimated to have cost the company as much as $2 billion.