Former president ‘Lula’ faces cash-for-votes probe

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Brazil’s attorney general is to investigate allegations that popular former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva knew about a cash-for-votes scheme in ­congress that led to the recent convictions of 25 people.

Roberto Gurgel yesterday said he would examine statements by former businessman Marcos Valerio that Mr Silva approved the so-called “mensalao” monthly payouts and used some for personal expenses in office. Mr Silva denies the allegations.

Valerio was jailed for more than 40 years and fined $1.3 million (£8m) for operating the scheme that gave MPs cash in return for supporting Mr Silva’s Workers’ Party policies after he took office in 2003.

Valerio made the allegations against Mr Silva in testimony to prosecutors last September, after conviction but before sentencing. No allegations have ever stuck to Mr Silva, who left office in 2010. When Valerio’s claims emerged last week in the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, his successor, president Dilma Rousseff, lashed out against them.

Mr Silva’s former chief of staff, Jose Dirceu, was also convicted of racketeering and sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison.