For the first time Brazilian prosecutors have charged former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva over a massive corruption scandal at the state oil company, Petrobras. Deltan Dallagnol, a public prosecutor, said that Lula led the Petrobras corruption scheme, which caused an estimated loss of about $12.6bn. Lula’s lawyers rebuffed the allegations, saying that the prosecutors lacked any evidence to prove ex-president’s complicity in the graft.
The filing of charges comes as a big blow to Lula, who has been nurturing hopes of staging a political comeback in the 2018 election, reports The Guardian. A two-year-old investigation has revealed how Lula’s Workers’ Party secured illicit funding and bribes by handing overpriced contracts to engineering businesses.
Since Lula controlled the machinery of the Workers’ party and the Brazilian government, he has been named as the “conductor of this criminal orchestra.” Lula, who lifted millions out of poverty through his social policies, still enjoys a high approval rating, with polls showing him as a strong contender in the next presidential election, writes Al Jazeera.
Brazil’s entire political system has lost its credibility in the wake of a string of charges and revelations from various bribery scandals, notes The New York Times. Several cabinet ministers in President Michel Temer’s government have been forced to resign over allegations of hampering corruption inquiries.