UPDATE 1-Brazil prosecutors charge Lula in money laundering probe

miércoles 9 de marzo de 2016 20:37 GYT

(Recasts with charges from state prosecutors)

By Eduardo Simões and Lisandra Paraguassu

SAO PAULO/BRASILIA, March 9 (Reuters) - Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was charged in a money laundering investigation led by Sao Paulo state prosecutors on Wednesday, intensifying scrutiny of the politician questioned in a separate federal graft probe last week.

A spokesman for the state prosecutors declined to specify the charges, but state investigators have said they suspect Lula's family owned an undeclared beachfront apartment in the city of Guaruja.

Federal investigators echoed those allegations after they detained Lula for questioning in police custody on Friday, fanning a political crisis that has rattled his successor, President Dilma Rousseff.

Lula has denied any wrongdoing and rejected the idea that he owned the luxury condo in Guaruja built by engineering group OAS, one of the conglomerates snared in a vast corruption scandal tied to state-run oil company Petrobras.

Lula's lawyer called the charges an attempt by prosecutor Cassio Roberto Conserino to smear the former president.

"Conserino turned two visits to an apartment in Guaruja into concealed ownership," defense attorney Cristiano Zanin Martins said in a statement calling on the Supreme Court to decide if state or federal prosecutors had jurisdiction.

The charges may make it more urgent for Lula to accept, if offered, a post in Rousseff's government.   Continuación...