Ex-Brazilian president Lula investigated in vote-buying scandal

Scheme has already led to conviction of close aides for corruption


Brazilian federal district prosecutors have asked police to investigate allegations that former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took part in a cash-for-votes scheme that toppled several of his closest aides.

In a two-sentence statement posted on their website, the prosecutors said their request is based on advertising executive Marcos Valerio's sworn testimony in September that he twice transferred funds for Mr Lula's personal expenses.

A former cabinet chief and the one-time head of Mr Lula's Workers' Party are among those who have been convicted by the Supreme Court for their roles in the so-called mensalao scandal, Portuguese for "big monthly payment."

At least 25 people have been found guilty in the case, in which public funds were used to bribe lawmakers from 2003 to 2005.

Mr Lula's press office didn't respond to an e-mail today from Bloomberg seeking comment. In December, Mr Lula called the accusations "a lie".

When the scandal broke in 2005, Mr Lula went on national television to say he had been betrayed by his aides and had no knowledge of their wrongdoing.

A year later, after being re-elected, he blamed the opposition for inventing the charges in a bid to topple his government. He served as president from 2003 to 2011, when he was succeeded by Dilma Rousseff.

Mr Valerio was sentenced in October to 40 years in prison for corruption, conspiracy and money laundering.

Judges at the Supreme Court said he was the main operator of the mensalao scheme, responsible for collecting money and distributing it for many purposes, according to the orders he received from the Workers' Party.