Lula da Silva and PT chief Hoffmann hit with fresh corruption charges

BRASILIA – Imprisoned former Brazilian President Lula da Silva, along with the current leader of the Workers Party he founded, has been hit with fresh corruption charges by federal prosecutors.

Authorities allege that Lula, along with Senator Gleisi Hoffmann, who is leading the beleaguered Workers Party, were given access to a US$40 million slush fund in 2010 funded by construction company Odebrecht, in exchange for government decisions that would benefit the company.

The Workers Party said in a statement that the accusations were unfounded. Also charged in the alleged scheme were Antonio Palocci, who served as Finance Minister under Lula and who last week signed a plea deal with prosecutors, along with Paulo Bernardo, who was Lula’s planning minister. Palocci has been in jail since 2016 and was found guilty in a different graft trial last year.

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Lula was jailed on April 7 and is serving a 12-year sentence for a bribery conviction. The former leader already faces another six separate trials on graft charges.

Hoffmann and Bernardo, her husband, are both also facing a separate trial in the sweeping Lava Jato corruption probe, an unprecedented push against corruption in Latin America’s biggest economy that has seen scores of powerful politicians and businessmen jailed for corruption.