September 4, 2018 / 3:18 PM / 16 days ago

Brazil Workers Party VP candidate Haddad charged with corruption

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Sao Paulo state prosecutors in Brazil said on Tuesday they have charged the Workers Party (PT) vice presidential candidate Fernando Haddad with corruption, but any potential trial would not hinder his ability to run.

Workers Party vice presidential candidate Fernando Haddad, leaves the Federal Police headquarters, where Brazilian former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is imprisoned, after visiting him, in Curitiba, Brazil September 3, 2018. Picture taken September 3, 2018. REUTERS/Rodolfo Buhrer

Haddad, a former mayor of Sao Paulo, will likely become the PT’s presidential candidate within days as imprisoned former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was barred from running by the top electoral court last week.

Haddad’s candidacy is not in danger of being blocked, as it would be virtually impossible for a trial to play out before the country’s elections next month. But the accusations will allow political rivals to rail against him just a month ahead of the first-round vote.

The accusations included in a written statement center on alleged payments of debts related to Haddad’s campaign for mayor of Sao Paulo in 2012 made by a construction company the following year. The charges must be accepted by a judge to go to trial.

The payments, around 3 million reais ($722,961), were allegedly made by representatives of construction conglomerate UTC Participações to a company that printed Haddad’s campaign materials.

Such payments, according to prosecutors, were aimed at obtaining illegal advantages for UTC as a contractor of public works in the city of Sao Paulo after Haddad had already taken office.

Haddad’s campaign press team in a written statement on Tuesday denied he had committed any wrongdoing and said the prosecutors’ case was based on false plea-bargain testimony.

UTC, in an email, did not directly address the charge against Haddad, but said that it had and would continue to work with prosecutors.

Under Brazil’s “Clean Slate” law, a politician whose conviction is upheld on appeal, as is the case with Lula, cannot run for office.

Reporting by Brad Brooks in Sao Paulo and Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jeffrey Benkoe

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