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Former Brazilian President Detained For Questioning In Corruption Probe

REUTERS

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva was detained by authorities Friday over a growing political scandal in Brazil linked to the country’s state-owned oil firm.

Authorities began their operation at 6 a.m. Friday in the Brazilian business center of São Paulo, according to The New York Times. Authorities also raided the former president’s home, his son’s home and his nonprofit, The Lula Institute, The Guardian reported.

President “Lula” as he is known, is accused by authorities “of having election campaigns financed by kickbacks and bribes channeled from inflated Petrobras [a state-owned oil firm] contracts,” according to The Guardian. Lula was president of Brazil from 2003 to 2010.

Lula’s handpicked successor and longtime protege Dilma Rousseff succeeded him after the country’s 2010 elections. Rousseff was then reelected in a tight presidential race in 2014.

Since her 2014 reelection, Rousseff has been dogged by accusations of high-level corruption and graft in a scandal that has come to be known as “Lava Jato” or the Car Wash Scandal. Investigators initially focused on corruption tied to Petrobras and high-level politicos, but the investigation has expanded to include several high fliers in Brazilian business.

Billionaire CEO of financial services firm BTG Pactual — which has been nicknamed by some to mean Better Than Goldman Sachs — Andre Esteves, resigned from his publicly-traded firm in November 2015 after being arrested for bribing Petrobras officials. Brazil’s largest construction firm, Odebrecht, has also been implicated in scandal as investigators look into if Lula lobbied on behalf of the firm to get big contracts in exchange for renovating a beach front apartment and an estate.

Authorities released Lula after extensive questioning. Rousseff is facing possible impeachment charges as a result of the ever-widening scandal that has affected Brazil’s previously untouchable leading political and business figures.

Lula, a former union boss, was the head of the Brazilian Workers’ Party and was mulling another run for office in 2018.

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