BRASILIA, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- President of the Brazilian Workers' Party (PT) Rui Falcao said on Wednesday that accusations against former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are "another episode of persecution" and an attempt to stop Lula from running for president in 2018.
On Wednesday, investigators accused Lula, who served as president from 2003 to 2010, of leading a vast corruption ring at Brazilian oil company Petrobras.
According to the charge sheet, the former president owns an apartment in the coastal city of Guaruja, near Sao Paulo, which was renovated for free by OAS, a construction company involved in the corruption ring. It also alleges that Lula owns an undeclared property in Atibaia, a municipality in the state of Sao Paulo.
Investigators estimate Lula received benefits worth 3.7 million reais (about 1.1 million U.S. dollars) from OAS in total.
Lula's wife, Marisa Leticia Lula da Silva, president of the Lula Institute Paulo Okamotto, and five OAS executives were also accused.
At a press conference, Deltan Dallagnol, a federal prosecutor, said that "Lula was the high commander of the Petrobras corruption scheme" and accused his government of facilitating massive bribery and corruption.
According to the prosecutor, without Lula, the corruption ring would have been impossible. "This was a scheme of the government and the political party. There is evidence that PT party leaders enriched themselves with money embezzled from Petrobras," said Dallagnol.
In response, Falcao said: "We were awaiting this accusation, it had been expected. The process of trying to punish Lula and his future ban (as candidate) is predictable. We do not understand the reasons."
"If there is a minimum of justice, this accusation cannot be listened to. It is more than proven that...Lula was never the owner of the apartment and never used his position for illegal benefits. This is another episode of persecution," said the politician.
According to Falcao, this is all part of a process without evidence but with a clear objective to remove Lula as a presidential candidate.
In a post on his Facebook page, Lula said he had never owned the apartment in Guaruja.
"Since January 30, 2016, Lula has made public the documents that prove he is not the owner of any apartment in Guaruja," read the post.