Petrobras scandal ramifications getting closer to Lula da Silva

One of Brazil’s leading weekly magazines, Epoca, has revealed that former president Lula da Silva could be investigated over corruption allegations following on the imprisonment of the Odebrecht Group CEO, (Marcelo Odebrecht) which is one of the country’s largest private corporations and employers, and for which Lula did much lobbying and sponsoring for public works projects in Dominican Republic, Cuba, Venezuela and Ghana.

In Havana, Odebrecht, built the Mariel port and industrial estate in Cuba, an undertaking of over 2 billion dollars and the first chapter of the Castro brothers’ attempt to repeat the successful opening of the Chinese economy with the special trading zones.

According to Epoca and other Brazilian media, the special group of federal prosecutors have confirmed that they are looking into documents and recordings involving Lula da Silva, as a promoter and lobbyist overseas for the Odebrecht group.

Accordingly the special anti-corruption elite group has 90 days to decide if it opens an exhaustive investigation to determine whether the former president was involved in influence trafficking with foreign leaders to obtain multibillion ‘inflated’ contracts for the Odebrecht Group and for influencing the Brazilian development bank to loan over a billion dollars at low interests, since 2011 when he stepped down from office.

In the Dominican Republic the Brazilian group has been responsible for building the main infrastructure projects in the last ten years.

The former president has admitted concern over the fact he does have legislative privileges since he is not in office, and thus could be summoned as a witness any moment for the many cases under investigation by the special prosecutors’ group.

The revelations could not come at a worst moment for Lula da Silva and his protégé, president Dilma Rousseff who is facing political turbulence, a sliding economy with loss of jobs in the midst of what has been labeled as the largest corruption scandal in the country’s history, which has turned Petrobras, once an icon of modern Brazil into a bag of swindlers with an organized criminal gang suspected of siphoning over 2.2bn dollars.

So far Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff have not been directly involved in the Petrobras scandal, in which Odebrecht and other construction and engineering contractors paid handsome bribes to top executives of the company, named by the political system, to obtain inflated project contracts in the oil and gas corporation.

Prosecutors are beginning to prove that some of that money was channeled to the ruling Workers Party of Lula and Dilma, and some allies in the coalition. In effect over fifty political figures are under investigation, including 33 members of Congress, (the head of the Lower House and from the Senate).

Further complicating the matter, last April, former Uruguayan president Jose Mujica has sponsored a book under the heading of “A black sheep to office”, written by two journalists of his complete trust, in which in one of the many anecdotes, he narrates a meeting with Lula da Silva in the midst of a previous and equally damaging corruption case: the ‘mensalao’ or monthly payments to different members of congress to ensure approval of legislation.

Lula is quoted as saying that “this is the only way to run Brazil, the whole system is corrupt”, implicitly admitting his knowledge of the scheme which cost him half his cabinet and all of his closest advisors.

Merco Press

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MercoPress is an independent news agency started in 1993 which focuses on delivering news related to the Mercosur trade and political bloc, and member countries, covering an area of influence which includes South America, the South Atlantic and insular territories. MercoPress offers an update of the main events which model the Mercosur integration process, the current customs union, its influence on the main players of the region as well as the relations with other economic-political spaces.

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