Brazil prosecutors want police to investigate former president Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva

Brazil's federal prosecutor's office has asked police to investigate allegations that former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was involved in the massive cash-for votes scheme in Congress that led to the conviction of several of his closest aides.

In a brief statement posted on its website Friday night, the prosecutor's office says its request stems from testimony given by businessman Marcos Valerio that Silva approved the payout scheme and used cash from it for personal expenses. Silva has denied the allegations.

Last year, Valerio was sentenced to more than 40 years in prison for being what the Supreme Court called the operator of the scheme that gave legislators cash handouts in return for their support of Silva's policies.

Phone calls to Silva's office in Sao Paulo went unanswered.