Brazil's ex-president denies accusations of corruption

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-12-12 14:11:19

Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has denied accusations about his participation in a corruption scheme during his term, a local daily reported Tuesday.

"This is a lie," the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper quoted Lula as telling reporters in Paris after attending a forum on development.

The accusations were made by Marcos Valerio, one of the defendants in the so-called "Mensalao" case, a major bribe and money laundering scheme.

Valerio, who was a main operator in the scheme and sentenced to 40 years in prison by the Supreme Court, provided information to prosecutors in exchange for a reduction in his sentence.

He said Lula was aware of the scheme involving the monthly payment of large amounts to House representatives who would, in exchange, vote favorably on bills proposed by the government.

Valerio added Lula used some of the money laundered for personal expenses.

But Prosecutor Antonio Fernando de Souza, who first presented to the court the "Mensalao," told local media he did not find evidence of Lula's involvement at the time. He also noted that Valerio did not accuse the former president in his previous testimony.

Lula's ruling Workers' Party said Valerio's accusations were merely a "desperate attempt" to reduce his long prison sentence and "a succession of lies."

The opposition has already been trying to have Valerio speak before the House to clarify his accusations.

Supreme Court President Joaquim Barbosa, who was nominated by Lula and became famous for being tough on the accused during the Mensalao trial, urged prosecutors to probe into Valerio's claims.

Supreme Court judge Marco Aurelio Mello said it was up to prosecutors to evaluate whether Valerio's accusations include sufficient evidence to warrant an investigation.

The "Mensalao" case has involved quite a few former top officials under the Lula administration. Former chief of staff Jose Dirceu, accused of being the mastermind of the scheme, was also found guilty and sentenced to 11 years in jail.

Posted in: Americas

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