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Lula’s friend mulls plea bargain deal in Brazil probe: media

Brazilian businessman and rancher Jose Carlos Bumlai reacts during your testimony a parliamentary investigative committee, in Brasilia
Brazilian businessman and rancher Jose Carlos Bumlai reacts during your testimony a parliamentary investigative committee, in Brasilia, Brazil December 1, 2015.
REUTERS/UESLEI MARCELINO

A friend of Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva arrested in November for allegedly taking out a fraudulent loan to the Workers’ Party is negotiating a plea bargain deal with prosecutors, newspaper Valor Economico reported on Monday.

Jose Carlos Bumlai, a powerful rancher who also controlled a sugar mill, has discussed a potential collaboration with Brazilian investigators over the past two weeks, Valor said. He has remained in custody since Nov. 25.

Under Brazilian law, plea bargain deals are strictly confidential until the testimonies are collected by prosecutors and accepted by a judge.

Bumlai’s lawyer and a spokesperson for the prosecutors’ office did not immediately respond to request for comments.

The strategy has been widely used in the corruption investigation at state-run oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA that threatens to topple President Dilma Rousseff and has deepened a historic recession.

Prosecutors expect Bumlai to give details about the loan under investigation. They suspect the engineering branch of the Grupo Schahin, Schahin Engenharia, was awarded a contract to operate a drillship for Petrobras in exchange for the bank canceling Bumlai’s loan repayments.

Valor said prosecutors are looking for evidence linking two country estates in Atibaia worth 1.5 million reais to Bumlai and the former president. Lula was briefly detained for questioning on Friday, in the highest profile development in the two-year-old graft probe.

Source: Reuters

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