By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazilian courts have given the go-ahead for former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to stand trial for a third charge of corruption, announced federal prosecutors on Thursday. Lula along with Marcelo Odebrecht and nine other executives are charged with corruption in relation to suspicious funding obtained for construction work in Angola.
Last week federal investigators recommended that federal prosecutors hand down an indictment against former president Lula on charges of influencing Brazil’s Development Bank (BNDES) and other public entities to ensure the release of financing to Odebrecht and other construction companies for projects in Angola.
The former leader is accused of passive corruption and peddling of influence even after stepping down as President.
Construction giant Odebrecht, whose former CEO, Marcelo Odebrecht is in jail for corruption since June 2015, is accused of paying R$20 million (R$30 million at today’s value) to Exergia, a company owned by a relative of Lula’s wife, to obtain contracts in public works in Angola.
Lula’s defense team issued a statement saying that the former president is the victim of “absurd accusations without evidence,” and that he never interfered with BNDES’ financing projects.
“The decisions taken by the bank (BNDES) are voted on and based on technical work by a qualified body of staff,” argue Lula’s lawyers reiterating that the defense will show that the former president did not commit any of the alleged crimes suggested by federal prosecutors.
The former leader is already a defendant on two other cases, involving the mega Petrobras corruption scandal known as Lava Jato (Carwash).