Federal prosecutors in Brazil filed corruption charges on Wednesday against Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former president who has wielded enormous influence in the country and across Latin America for decades.
The charges against Mr. da Silva, 70, who was president from 2003 to 2010, tie him to the colossal graft scandal around the national oil company, Petrobras.
Prosecutors said that Mr. da Silva and his wife, Marisa Letícia Lula da Silva, who was also charged in the case, illegally benefited from about $750,000 in improvements at a beachfront apartment paid for by a large construction company seeking public contracts.
The charges are a major blow to Mr. da Silva, adding to a mounting list of legal problems that have complicated his ambitions of returning to the presidency.
Just a few years ago, Mr. da Silva, a former labor leader who never finished elementary school, ranked among Brazil’s most powerful political figures. His leftist Workers’ Party held the president’s office for 13 years, overseeing a period of big economic growth during which millions were lifted out of poverty.
But bribery scandals and a severe economic crisis have tarnished his legacy, ending with the ouster of his handpicked successor, Dilma Rousseff, who was removed by the Senate in August in a contentious impeachment trial.
Prosecutors in São Paulo had already filed corruption charges in March against Mr. da Silva at the state level involving the same apartment, arguing that he had sought to conceal ownership of the property.
And Mr. da Silva will also stand trial on charges of obstructing the investigation into the Petrobras scheme, a federal judge ruled last month.
Mr. da Silva and his lawyers have repeatedly claimed that he did nothing illegal in relation to the apartment in Guarujá, a seaside city near São Paulo.
But investigators said that O.A.S., a large Brazilian construction company, illegally paid for a series of improvements at the property. Prosecutors also filed corruption charges against the former chief executive of O.A.S.
The move by prosecutors came after months of simmering tension related to Mr. da Silva’s legal battles. Federal Police agents raided his home in March and briefly held him for questioning, after which Ms. Rousseff, the president at the time, offered him a cabinet post that would have given himbroad legal protections from being jailed. Brazil’s Supreme Court blocked the nomination.