Brazil presidential election: candidates on both sides charged with corruption | World news

Two candidates on opposite sides of the political spectrum in Brazil’s forthcoming presidential vote have been charged with receiving illegal campaign donations just a month before the election.

Within 24 hours, Fernando Haddad of the leftist Workers’ party’s (PT) and Geraldo Alckmin from the rightwing PSDB were both accused of funding violations in previous campaigns.

Haddad is currently running to be vice-president to the incarcerated former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who has been banned from running due to his criminal conviction. Haddad is expected to assume the ticket as the presidential candidate imminently.

Both candidates are accused of taking off-the-books campaign donations.

Prosecutors are bringing a criminal case against Haddad for allegedly taking R$2.6m for his 2012 campaign for mayor of São Paulo from the construction firm UTC Participações.

Alckmin is accused in a civil case of taking R$10m from the scandal-ridden construction firm Odebrecht during his 2014 run for governor of São Paulo state. In both cases, prosecutors are alleging that the unreported donations resulted in illegal advantages for the construction firms.

Geraldo Alckmin is accused of taking funds from the construction company Odebrecht.

Geraldo Alckmin is accused of taking funds from the construction company Odebrecht. Photograph: Eraldo Peres/AP

A sweeping investigation of political kickback schemes, known as Operation Car Wash, has turned Brazil’s political class upside down in recent years.

“These types of allegations have been constant since Car Wash began. Any politician who’s not a newcomer has received money from these sources,” said Thiago de Aragão, a political analyst at Arko Advice.

It is unlikely the cases will proceed in time to result in a conviction before the election’s first round on 7 October, but De Aragão says it will cause damage to both candidates’ reputations in a crowded playing field where neither have any votes to spare.

Both campaigns have denied wrongdoing. São Paulo state prosecutors announced the case against Haddad on Tuesday, about a week after announcing another civil case against him for administrative improbity. The PT released a statement calling the case the latest example of the judiciary making “frivolous, baseless accusations” against them.

“[It is] further proof of the scandalous political and partisan engagement of institutions linked to the PSDB.”

But on Wednesday, the same state prosecutor’s office announced their case against Alckmin, whose PSDB party is a longtime political rival of the PT. The Alckmin campaign released a statement saying there was no new evidence in the case, only an “incorrect conclusion and unusual behavior” from the prosecutors. They also say the prosecutors are politically motivated.

However, anti-corruption advocates say this may be the start of a new era for accountability in Brazilian politics.

“Organized crime capturing our states is a serious problem for the fragility of our democracies,” said Bruno Brandão, the executive director of Transparency International Brasil. “The Brazilian authorities are doing what they’ve never done before. They have the capacity to investigate and prosecute this systemic behavior.”

Additional reporting by Dom Phillips

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