Brazil freezes assets of ex-president Lula in corruption case

Brazil’s central bank has frozen four bank accounts belonging to ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva due to his recent conviction on corruption charges, the federal judge who heard his case said Wednesday.

The assets in question amount to more than 600,000 Brazilian reals ($190,000), according to the office of Sergio Moro, who sentenced Silva to 9½ years in prison in connection with a sprawling graft probe involving state-run oil giant Petrobras.

Moro also barred the ex-president from using three apartments, a piece of land and two cars linked to him. None can be sold until there is a final ruling on the case.

A Silva spokesman confirmed the assets were frozen but did not comment further.

The former president denies any wrongdoing and remains free pending a decision on his appeal. His defense has called the graft conviction politically motivated and a ploy to sideline Silva, widely considered a front-runner for next year’s presidential election.

Last week the judge also seized a beachfront apartment in the city of Guaruja, Sao Paulo state, that is the centerpiece of the corruption and money laundering case against Silva. The apartment is valued at about 2.2 million Brazilian reals ($700,000), according to investigators.

Moro, who is hailed as an anti-corruption hero by supporters and loathed as a zealot by detractors, said construction company OAS promised to give the apartment to Silva as a bribe for three contracts with Petrobras.

Silva says the apartment was never his and he and his wife only visited once before declining to buy it.

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