The Brazilian Attorney General, Rodrigo Janot, has accused former presidents Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, along with several other leaders of the Workers' Party, or PT, of taking part in a criminal organization to divert money from the state-controlled oil company, Petrobras.
The accusations came just hours after Lula ended his "caravan of hope" around the impoverished Northeast of Brazil with a mass rally in the city of Sao Luis. Lula and his supporters have long rejected the various cases against him as fabrications, aimed at stopping him from standing in presidential elections due next year.
Lula told the crowd at his closing rally that, "if they think that they just need to get rid of Lula and everything will be alright, they are making a big mistake." He said there are already millions who think like Lula.
"They should realize that Lula now represents an idea, the idea that the people can and want to live well," he said.
The accusations brought by Janot relate to alleged bribes between the Workers Party-led government and Petrobras, with the Attorney General saying that much of the operations were headed by Lula. The prosecutors insist that Workers Party officials pocketed $475m in bribe money
Among the other accused are former ministers Fazenda Antonio Palocci and Guido Mantega, Gleisi Hoffmann a Workers Party President and her husband, former communications minister Paulo Bernardo, and former Workers Party treasurers Joao Vaccari and Edinho Silva, who is the current prefict of Araquara.
The accused have 15 days to formally reply to the accusations.
The case will then go to the Supreme Court judge leading the sprawling Car Wash corruption scandal, and then to a panel of Supreme Court judges. They will decide whether to accept the accusations in full or in part. Only then will the accused be formally charged. Alternatively, the judges could decide to shelve the case.
A representative of Rousseff has said that the Attorney General has offered no evidence to support the allegations, and Lula's lawyer has said that the accusations are abusing the law to persecute the popular former President and social leader.