Brazilian prosecutors have brought new charges against former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, adding another accusation to a series of corruption charges.
Federal prosecutors said in a statement that Silva interfered in state-run development bank BNDES to assure financing for a small firm owned by a nephew of his late first wife.
The charges against him and 10 other people, including executives of Brazil’s mammoth construction company Odebrecht, include corruption, money laundering, influence trafficking and criminal organization.
Silva’s lawyer Cristiano Zanin said in a press conference that he did not have access to the probe and his client could not have interfered because Brazil’s development bank only makes collegial decisions.
He also denied the accusation by prosecutors that speeches given by the once hugely popular politician were a disguise to channel bribes.
The announcement is the most recent of growing legal woes facing the embattled left-leaning leader who is also a presidential hopeful for 2018.
Last month Sergio Moro, a judge hailed as a hero by adversaries of Silva’s Workers’ Party, ruled that the former president must stand trial on money laundering and corruption charges involving company-financed improvements at a beachfront apartment. Silva says he never owned the apartment.
Silva will also stand trial in a separate case in which a former ally accuses him of obstruction of justice in the sprawling scandal at state-run oil giant Petrobras.
Mr Zanin did not speak of the specifics of the new charges, but said Silva was the “elected enemy” of politically biased Brazilian authorities and mentioned those involved in the Petrobras probe.
The lawyer also said he will file a petition to remove Mr Moro, who presides over many of the state-oil related investigations, from cases related to Silva.
Among his reasons are Mr Moro’s presence in business forums organised by Sao Paulo’s mayor elect, who is now a key member of the centre-right Brazilian Social Democracy Party, the main adversary of Silva’s Workers’ Party.
“There has been no respect to the former president’s legal assurances,” Mr Zanin said.
“There is a will to keep Lula out of the 2018 presidential elections” through legal wrangling.
Silva leads early polls for a first vote in 2018, but would lose the runoff against the vast majority of other potential presidential hopefuls.