Legal Magazine

Investigation into Lula Examines Brazilian Law

Posted on the 19 May 2015 by Angelicolaw @AngelicoLaw

Federal prosecutors will spend the next 90 days considering whether to launch a full investigation into former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The interest in Lula stems from his overseas lobbying efforts for Odebrecht, Brazil’s largest construction company. It is believed that Lula persuaded foreign leaders to award inflated contracts to Odebrecht and encouraged Brazil’s state development bank to award Odebrecht one billion dollars in low-interest loans since he left office in 2011. Under Brazilian law, this “influence peddling” crime carries a sentence of up to five years.

News of the recent Lula allegations broke in Epoca magazine. The magazine reports the inquiry will be focused on Lula’s efforts in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ghana and Venezuela, where Odebrecht has won the majority of its contracts.

The news of a possible investigation deals yet another blow to the Workers’ Party. Founded by Lula, the party is already reeling after a system of kickbacks in state-run oil company Petrobras was uncovered. Although Lula has yet to be named a person of interest in the Petrobras scandal, Odebrecht has faced allegations of paying bribes to high-ranking politically appointed executives in Petrobras in order to be awarded inflated contracts. Federal prosecutors believe part of that money was then invested in the campaign coffers of the Workers’ Party.

Prosecutors seem to be facing an uphill battle as Lula’s attorney claims the criminal definition of influence peddling is vague and difficult to prove. Compounding this is the fact that Lula was a private citizen holding no political office at the time prosecutors claim he was influence peddling. For his part, Lula firmly denies all allegations. Odebrecht also issued a statement saying there are no grounds for an investigation of any kind.

Still the allegations add to yet another growing political scandal in Brazil. While only time will tell if Lula will indeed face charges, citizens can expect Brazilian lawyers to be watching this investigation closely over the next few months. The outcome could prove to be a game-changer in the world of political law.


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