Brazil court to try Lula on Angola corruption charges

A federal judge in Brazil ruled on Thursday that former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will stand trial for an alleged bribery scheme related to work by construction giant Odebrecht in Angola.

It’s the second time in less than a month that a federal judge has ruled that Lula, a two-term president who left office in 2011 as Brazil’s most popular president with an 83-percent approval rating, must stand trial.  

Lula faces allegations of corruption, money laundering and obstruction of justice related to a sprawling kickback scheme at state-run oil company Petrobras, which prosecutors allege he orchestrated for more than a decade.

Thursday’s decision by Judge Vallisney Oliveira in Brasilia centers on allegations Lula and others took 30 million reais ($9.3 million) in bribes to help win low-interest financing from the BNDES development bank for Odebrecht projects in Angola. Lula’s lawyers denied the accusations. 

Last month, Judge Sergio Moro ruled that Lula would stand trial on charges he was a “direct beneficiary” of 3.7 million reais in bribes from OAS SA, one of the engineering and construction firms at the center of the graft scandal.

Separately, Moro decided on Thursday to try Eduardo Cunha, former speaker of the lower house of Congress, for his alleged role in the Petrobras corruption scandal. 

As speaker, Cunha led the successful drive to impeach former President Dilma Rousseff for breaking budgetary rules – a move Rousseff and her supporters call a “coup” in retaliation for her not trying to quash the aggressive Petrobras investigation.

Rousseff, who served as the chairwoman of the Petrobras board for several years as the kickback scheme played out, is being investigated for obstruction of justice in the graft probe, but has not been charged with any crimes.

($1 = 3.22 Brazilian reais)


(Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; Additional reporting by Brad Brooks and Tatiana Ramil in Sao Paulo; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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