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article imageTop former aide to Lula charged in Brazil corruption

By AFP     Sep 4, 2015 in World

A former top aide to ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was charged Friday in Brazil's huge corruption probe, along with the former treasurer of the ruling Workers' Party.

Jose Dirceu served as chief of staff to Lula between 2003 and 2005 and is one of the biggest names caught in the probe known as Operation Car Wash into bribery and embezzlement at state oil giant Petrobras.

Dirceu, who has been detained since August 3, is accused of corruption and money laundering.

He is alleged to have played a central role in the kickbacks scheme, which is estimated to have seen $2.1 billion in bribes change hands, mostly in exchange for massively overpriced building contracts.

"Dirceu was an important Brazilian political leader. For a long time he represented the ideals of many, but the evidence tells us that he committed serious crimes and must be held responsible," lead prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol said in Parana, southern Brazil.

Dirceu was already under house arrest following his conviction in a separate corruption scandal that had ended his role with Lula in 2005.

Former Workers' Party treasurer Joao Vaccari, who is also in pre-trial detention, and another 15 people were charged Friday with involvement in the Petrobras scandal.

Their arrests brought the investigation closer to Lula and his Workers' Party successor President Dilma Rousseff, who was chairwoman of Petrobras during the main period of the corruption scheme, but who has not been accused of involvement.

More about Brazil, Corruption, Petrobras, Politics, dirceu
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