Wednesday, 26 July, 2017

Brazilian President's situation fragile after report of corruption

Brazil's President Michel Temer is facing corruption charges Brazil's President Michel Temer is facing corruption charges
Ben Pena | 19 May, 2017, 21:58

Brazil's President Michel Temer on Thursday defiantly said he would not resign after the Supreme Court authorised an investigation into allegations he condoned bribes to a potential witness in a major corruption probe.

"I will not resign".

"I will not resign, I repeat, I will not resign".

"There is no agreeing with payments for Eduardo Cunha", said Marcio de Freitas, a spokesman for President Temer said of the tape. The culture minister, Roberto Freire, resigned and there were indications that the urban affairs minister would follow.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court launched an investigation into Temer and he faced four separate impeachment requests in Congress.

There had been speculation that Temer would use his televised address to resign.

Mr Temer took over office past year after the impeachment of his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff.

Now "those efforts may come to nothing", he warned.

Of more concern to Mr Temer may be signs of dissent within his administration, with a leader of his coalition allies, the social democrat PSDB, saying they were considering leaving the government. To which the second man responds: "Every month".

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The Bovespa index crashed more than 10 percent after opening, triggering an automatic suspension of trading for 30 minutes. The Nikkei average closed up 36.90 points or 0.19 percent at 19,590.76, but ended the week down about 1.5 percent.

Investors have been counting on Temer pushing through the austerity reforms, which include a raising of the minimum retirement age, so that Brazil's bloated public finances can be brought under control.

Batista, who has secured a plea-bargain deal with prosecutors, recorded the conversation in which he and Temer allegedly discussed making illegal payments to jailed former House Speaker Eduardo Cunha, of the PMDB, to keep him from testifying about corruption. The jailed politician's testimony could reportedly implicate scores of politicians, including the president. The tapes show Temer offering bribe to Cunha to keep his mouth shut about the dirt he knows about his former colleagues. I did not buy anyone's silence. Loures was then filmed receiving 500,000 reals ($160,000) in bribes from Batista.

The Supreme Court suspended Neves. The columnist who reported the bombshell claims clarified on Thursday that he had not personally heard the recording but had had it described to him "in the most detail possible".

The scandal has engulfed Brazilian politics, with a third of Mr Temer's cabinet under investigation for alleged corruption.

At the same time, a massive corruption scandal involving the state oil company Petrobras was unfolding. The bribery and embezzlement then rippled far beyond, pulling in numerous country's most famous executives and leaders.

Until now Temer has managed to stay above the fray.

Rousseff accused Temer of carrying out a "coup" to impede the Car Wash probe, in which more than 90 leading business and political figures have been convicted so far.

Although alleged to have participated in large-scale bribery deals, he can not be prosecuted for crimes prior to his mandate.

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