Brazilian apartment at center of Lula's downfall sold

Sao Paulo (AFP) –


The seaside apartment at the center of the corruption case that saw popular ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva sent to prison last month was auctioned Tuesday for more than $600,000.

The triplex, which Lula was found guilty of having accepted as a bribe, was sold in an online sale that saw just one bidder who joined five minutes before closing. About 50,000 people had visited the webpage.

The identity of the buyer, who paid the minimum starting price of 2.2 million reais, was not made public.

Trailblazing anti-corruption Judge Sergio Moro ordered proceeds from the sale to go to state oil company Petrobras, the designated victim in the Lula case.

The leftist former president was convicted of having accepted the apartment as a gift from the big OAS construction company in exchange for helping to arrange lucrative contracts with Petrobras.

Lula insists that the apartment in Guaruja, an upmarket seaside resort near Sao Paulo, never belonged to him and he describes his conviction as a maneuver to keep him from seeking office.

He began a 12-year prison sentence in April and is almost sure to be barred from October presidential elections in which he leads opinion polls.