Prosecutors investigate Brazil's former president's alleged influence peddling

Brazilian prosecutors say they are investigating allegations that former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's peddled his influence for scandal-plagued construction firm Odebrecht.

A press officer at the Federal Prosecutors Office said Thursday that enough evidence has been gathered to warrant a full-fledged investigation into Silva's alleged overseas lobbying efforts in favor of Brazil's biggest builder. Citing internal regulations the press officer spoke on condition of anonymity.

She said Silva's efforts after he left office helped Odebrecht obtain contracts to build inflated billion-dollar infrastructure projects in Panama and Venezuela and that there are "strong indications" that the former president also helped the company get contracts in several other countries.

The Sao Paulo-based Lula Institute said the former president rejects any wrongdoing and that the investigation took him by surprise.