Sunday, August 30, 2015

Brazilian weekly says Lula lobbied for Odebrecht in Cuba

Brazilian weekly says Lula lobbied for Odebrecht in Cuba

BRASILIA (Reuters) - A Brazilian news magazine has accused former
president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of acting as lobbyist in Cuba for
Brazil's largest engineering firm Odebrecht, which built the container
terminal at the Cuban port of Mariel.

In this week's edition headlined "Our man in Havana," Epoca magazine
cited Brazilian diplomatic cables about visits to Cuba by Lula after he
had left office. During those visits he sought to further Brazilian
business interests on the island, it said.

One cable from 2014 reported on a meeting in Havana at which Lula
discussed with Odebrecht executives how to secure Cuban guarantees for
loans from Brazilian state development bank BNDES to finance new
projects sought by Odebrecht in Cuba.

Lula's foundation called the Epoca story "offensive" and "malicious" and
"criminal manipulation" of government documents.

"These are normal activities. The ex-president did nothing illegal and
was discussing sovereign guarantees for loans to Cuba in a meeting where
a diplomat was present," said Jose Chrispiniano, a spokesman for the
Lula Institute.

Lula is under investigation for improperly using his influence to
benefit Odebrecht, whose billionaire chief executive Marcelo Odebrecht
was arrested in June in connection with the massive bribery and
political kickback scandal focused on state-run oil company Petroleo
Brasileiro SA.

Prosecutors say Lula frequently traveled abroad at Odebrecht's expense
after leaving office, from 2011 until 2014.

The inquiry puts the legacy of one of Brazil's most popular former
leaders on the line at a time when some are calling for the impeachment
of his chosen successor, President Dilma Rousseff, for alleged campaign
finance irregularities.

Epoca, owned by the Globo media group, said Lula lobbied to get Cuba
good terms for a $682 million loan from BNDES that went to finance the
Mariel port project built by Odebrecht.

The Lula Institute said that, by the time Lula visited Cuba in 2011, the
loan for Mariel had been approved two years earlier in contracts "that
no alleged lobbyist could alter."

Lula, founder of the ruling Workers' Party, said in a radio interview on
Friday he could run again for the presidency in 2018 to prevent his
opponents winning the elections.

While still an influential politician, Lula's popularity has been hurt
by the arrest on corruption charges of his former chief of staff and the
treasurer of his party. Recent polls show the leftist leader would be
defeated if he ran again.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Paul Tait)

Source: Brazilian weekly says Lula lobbied for Odebrecht in Cuba - Yahoo
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