11/05/2017 | 3PM
Testifying before Judge Sérgio Moro yesterday (May 10), Brazil's former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said there was no evidence he had committed any crime, and denied knowing OAS construction company was paying kickbacks to Petrobras officials and his Workers' Party (PT) or telling OAS's CEO Léo Pinheiro to destroy potential evidence of the Petrobras corruption scheme.
Moro is the judge presiding over the “Car Wash” corruption investigation at the lower court. The probe has revealed a huge corruption scheme involving kickbacks, money laundering, and illegal offshore banking through contracts between construction companies and Petrobras state-run oil company.
Lula is answering charges for allegedly receiving a million dollars in kickbacks as a compensation for three contracts signed by Petrobras with OAS. The Federal Prosecution Service says the kickbacks were paid to Lula in the form of a renovation in a three-storey beachfront apartment in Guarujá, São Paulo state, and by paying for the storage of property belonging to Lula, including gifts he received as president of Brazil. For this, Lula was charged with accepting bribes and laundering money.
Asked by Moro if he knew OAS was paying kickbacks into a “general account” controlled by João Vaccari Neto, then treasurer of the Workers' Party, Lula replied: “If I had [known about it], they'd have been arrested long ago.”
The former president said there is no evidence—deeds or other documents under his name—proving the beach apartment belonged to him. “If I have committed a crime, then give evidence. Prove it to society, and Lula will be punished just like any other citizen would. But for God's sake, find evidence. Enough of rumors.”
Testifying as part of his plea bargain deal, OAS's former CEO Léo Pinheiro said Lula contacted him in 2014 asking if OAS had records of kickback payments. According to Pinheiro, Lula asked him to destroy all evidence.
But Lula rejects the allegations: “I have been with Léo Pinheiro on more than one occasion, but I've never said what he told you.” The former president said that back then, amid the economic crisis, business leaders would turn to him for advice on how to deal with the economic situation, including Pinheiro.
Following Moro, federal prosecutors took their turn in questioning Lula. They showed a picture of two containers labelled “country house” and “beach”. According to prosecutors, these containers were shipments of part of the presidential collection from Alvorada Palace (the official presidential residence). Prosecutors believe the one marked “beach” was to be sent to the beach apartment in Guarujá, and the one labelled “country house” was bound for a country house in Atibaia, São Paulo, over which another charge has been filed against Lula.
“The only ones who can really tell what was inside the box are those investigating them, those who opened it. I have never opened a box, I have never visited the collection, I don't know what was inside. […] The reason 'beach' was written on it was because I used to go to the beach when I was president. It means nothing,” Lula replied.
At the closing arguments, the former president criticized the media and how information on the case was leaked to the media, and said the charges against him were based on news reports.
Judge Moro rebutted saying the media would not influence his judgment. “These are public charges. Nothing in these court cases has been leaked. You can rest assured that this case will be tried on the basis of evidence and law, and your statements on this issue will be taken into account. This is not an appropriate venue to complain about how you have been treated by the media. What the media publishes is none of the court's concern.”
Source: Agência Brasil