Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will face a new charge of money laundering as part of the investigations into the largest corruption scandal in Latin America.

According to a Monday statement from prosecutors in the Brazilian state of Curitiba, the former president is accused of accepting 4 million reais (759,000 dollars) worth of bribes disguised as donations.

Prosecutors say four transfers were made to the “Instituto Lula” from construction giant Odebrecht between 2013 and 2014.

Lula’s defence rejected the charge as an attempt to criminalise four legitimate donations.

This is the fourth charge Lula has faced in the so-called “Lava Jato” or “Car Wash” corruption investigations.

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After a previous conviction, he was jailed, but allowed to leave prison early in November.

Lula’s conviction and imprisonment prevented him from contesting the October 2018 presidential election and paved the way for the victory of right-winger Jair Bolsonaro, who appointed Lava Jato case judge Sergio Moro his justice minister.

A working-class president, Lula oversaw strong economic growth and falling inequality during his 2003-2011 rule.

His social policies earned him soaring popularity ratings, even as concern grew about corruption in his government.

dpa/NAN