By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) asked the courts on Thursday to block the assets of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and one of his sons, Luís Cláudio, totaling more than R$24 million.
Prosecutors accuse the former leader of influence peddling in relation to the 2013 government’s purchase of thirty-six Gripen aircraft fighters, manufactured by Sweden’s Saab, to be used by the Brazilian Air Force (FAB).
In a statement, Lula’s defense states that the request has no legal basis and that the purchase of the aircraft was based on FAB technical guidelines.
“The evidence in the file shows with absolute certainty that former President Lula and Luís Cláudio had no influence in the purchase of Swedish fighters,” stated the press release by Lula’s attorneys.
Calling the assertion that the former leader influenced the purchase ‘delusional’ the note goes on to say that other former presidents also agreed on the purchases.
“Witnesses heard, such as former Presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Dilma Rousseff stated that the purchase of Swedish fighter jets by Brazil in December 2013 followed the guidelines contained in the technical advice of the Armed Forces,” concluded the release.
This is not the first time the former president has had assets frozen. In July, days after being sentenced to nine years and a half in jail for passive corruption and money laundering, Brazil’s Central Bank carried out an order issued by federal judge Sergio Moro and froze of more than R$606,000 in assets from his accounts.
The former leader is currently free while appealing the conviction and travelling around the country in what some say is the start to his 2018 Presidential election campaign.
Early next year the courts will decide whether or not to accept his appeal. If the charges are not dropped by then, he will be ineligible to run for the Presidency for a third time.