Prosecutors claim that between September 2011 and June 2012, businessman Rodolfo Giannetti Geo asked Lula to convince President Teodoro Obiang to help the Brazilian ARG Group get a contract in the African country, making use of his “international prestige” even though he wasn’t in office anymore. In exchange, the company donated more than US$255,000 to the Lula Institute.
Giannetti is also being investigated for money laundering and influence peddling in international businesses.
The accusation was presented in November by the same team dealing with the Lava Jato Operation, a corruption scandal that led to the imprisonment of Lula earlier in 2018. Prosecutors presented letters and emails as evidence of Lula’s talks with Obiang in favor of the constructing firm.
In one of the letters, Lula allegedly tells Obiang that Equatorial Guinea could soon join the “Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries,” but no further information is added.
Lula, who ruled between 2003 and 2010, was also being accused of influence peddling, but the accusation is not valid in the Brazilian criminal code since Lula is more than 70 years old.
This is the sixth accusation against the former president, who was already sentenced to 12 years and a month in prison accused of passive corruption and money laundering. Lula denies his involvement in any of these cases and claims he’s the target of political persecution, along with the ousted president Dilma Rousseff and the whole Workers’ Party (PT).
In an official statement, Lula’s defense said the accusation provides no evidence of a concrete action by Lula related with money laundering or influence peddling, also clarifying that the Lula Institute shouldn’t be mixed with Lula personally and that the mentioned donations were completely legal.
“The opening of a new criminal accusation against Lula, based on a trivial accusation and lacking the minimum supporting evidence, is another step in the persecution practiced against the ex-president with the aim of hampering his political activities through a wicked use of law and judicial procedures,” wrote Cristiano Zanin Martins, one of Lula's lawyers.
Judge Sergio Moro, who sentenced Lula to prison, was appointed by President-elect Jair Bolsonaro as the future justice minister, raising suspicions about his intentions.