May 2, 2017 / 4:32 PM / 3 years ago

Brazil prosecutors charge former Lula chief of staff with corruption

RIO DE JANEIRO, May 2 (Reuters) - Brazilian prosecutors on Tuesday said they leveled new corruption charges against a one-time chief of staff for former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is already serving long jail sentences on prior graft convictions.

Prosecutors accused Jose Dirceu of taking 2.4 million reais ($755,880) in bribes from two engineering firms - UTC Engenharia SA and Engevix Engenharia SA.

The money was allegedly used for public relations efforts to improve Dirceu’s image before, during and after a 2012 trial, in which he was convicted in a widespread scheme of making monthly payments to congressmen to win support for legislation.

In addition, over the past year, courts have sentenced him in two separate trials to a collective 32 years in jail on corruption, money-laundering and conspiracy charges. They stemmed from a wide-ranging probe of graft at state-owned oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras.

Engevix did not respond to request for comment, and a lawyer for Dirceu was not immediately available for reaction.

A UTC Engenharia spokesman said the company would have nothing to say on the matter. ($1 = 3.1751 reais) (Reporting by Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro and Brad Brooks in Sao Paulo Editing by W Simon)

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