Brazil’s Lula, BTG’s Esteves Accused of Obstructing Justice

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  • Prosecutors said the accusation is related to Carwash probe
  • Former senator Amaral, other four people face same accusation

Brazilian prosecutors have accused former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and the co-founder of BTG Pactual SA, Andre Esteves, of trying to obstruct the sweeping corruption probe known as Carwash.

The federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement Thursday it filed the formal accusation with the Federal District’s justice system. In the filing, prosecutors accused five others of obstruction as well, including former Senator Delcidio do Amaral. Prosecutor-General Rodrigo Janot previously made the same accusation, according to the statement.

The Lula Institute that the former president founded declined to comment on the allegations, saying he has denied accusations of obstruction in the past. Esteves’ lawyers said he didn’t commit any wrongdoing, according to an e-mailed statement by his press office.

The Carwash probe into bribes at state-run companies has rocked Brazil’s political and business establishment. Police have arrested top executives, while the investigations destabilized the administration of President Dilma Rousseff, who was forced to step down in May and face an impeachment trial on unrelated charges.

Esteves spent three weeks in Rio de Janeiro’s infamous Bangu prison last year on allegations he tried to tamper with the testimony of a former oil company executive. He was released in December and ordered to be held instead under house arrest. Lula was brought in for police questioning earlier this year, though he was never imprisoned.
During Esteves’ arrest, BTG Pactual faced an asset flight that led the bank to tap a 6 billion-real ($1.83 billion) rescue line from the nation’s privately-backed deposit-guarantee fund FGC. To boost liquidity, BTG also sold units, including the distressed-asset management firm Recovery do Brasil and a controlling stake in the Swiss private-banking business BSI.