Ex-Brazilian president eyes cabinet post

RIO DE JANEIRO. — Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva looks set to be offered a position in President Dilma Rousseff’s cabinet amid allegations about the top politician’s role in the Petrobras corruption scandal.

Brazil’s three main papers reported on Monday that Lula was expected to be offered a ministerial position, after a crusading federal judge, Sergio Moro, was given jurisdiction to rule on money laundering charges filed against him.

Prosecutors in the state of Sao Paulo have also filed charges against Lula, accusing him of having an undeclared luxury apartment in the seaside town of Guaruja.

The construction company that officially owns the lavish home already faces allegations that it is tied to a vast kickback scheme commonly referred to as “Operation Car Wash”, in which elected leaders received Petrobras cash in exchange for government contracts.

The key point in the recent developments being that a cabinet position would shield Lula from federal and state prosecution.

Under Brazilian law, senior government officials and members of parliament can only be tried by the Supreme Federal Tribunal, the country’s top court.

Lula has disavowed ownership of the apartment, calling the investigation a political witch-hunt. His supporters say the cabinet role is the only way to assure the former left-wing president a fair investigation.

However, critics argue that President Rousseff and Lula are undermining the justice system in order to protect themselves.

Experts have said that investigations and hearings into “Operation Car Wash” will not be completed up anytime soon. “It could take many years, even up to a decade,” Brazilian political analyst Oliver Stuenkel told France 24 in a recent interview.

An unnamed source told Reuters on Monday that Lula — who is reportedly considering running for president again in 2018 — planned to travel to the capital of Brasilia yesterday to discuss his options with President Rousseff in person.

It was not yet decided whether he should be President Rousseff’s chief of staff or replace the minister in charge of legislative affairs, Ricardo Berzoini, the source added. — France24/Reuters.

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