Macau connection in probe involving Lula

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Brazil has opened a probe into claims linking popular ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (pictured) to a corruption scandal, AFP reports. The Public Ministry ordered police on Friday to investigate an alleged payoff by Portuguese firm Portugal Telecom to the ruling Workers’ Party during Mr Lula’s first term in office. Portugal Telecom, the second-biggest shareholder in CTM, Macau’s largest telecom company, is currently selling its stake in the company to Hong Kong-listed Citic Telecom International Holdings Ltd. According to AFP, businessman Marcos Valerio Fernandes de Souza said the former president and ex-finance minister Antonio Palocci negotiated a US$7 million (MOP56 million) payoff in 2005 with the one-time president of the Portuguese phone company through an account in Macau. Mr Fernandes de Souza received a 40-year sentence last year after he was found to have run much of the scheme that channelled cash to the ruling party.