Lula investigated in telecom scandal

AFP-JIJI

Brazil has opened a probe into claims linking popular ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to a corruption scandal, threatening to cast a shadow over his political legacy and future.

The Public Ministry ordered police Friday to investigate an alleged payoff by Portugal Telecom to the ruling Workers’ Party during Lula’s first term in office.

Businessman Marcos Valerio Fernandes de Souza has said the former president and ex-Finance Minister Antonio Palocci negotiated a $7 million payoff in 2005 with the one-time president of a Portuguese phone company through an account in Macau.

Fernandes de Souza received a 40-year sentence last year after he was found to have run much of the scheme that channeled cash to the ruling party.