Saturday, 27 May, 2017

Brazil's President Temer 'taped agreeing £120m in bribes'

The Latest: Brazil president denies OK'ing bribe Brazil's President Temer 'taped agreeing £120m in bribes'
Ben Pena | 19 May, 2017, 18:56

"Nobody right now knows what to do or what is going to happen", said a senior aide to party leadership in Congress. He also appears to condone Batista's actions to silence two judges overseeing a separate investigation into Batista's sprawling global empire.

Even in this country tired from the constant drip of revelations of a wide-ranging corruption investigation, the incendiary accusation set off a firestorm and Brazil's highest court opened an investigation.

The new scandal seems unlikely to lead to Temer's resignation, since leaving office would increase his exposure to potential prosecution on obstruction of justice charges. The allegation made in a Globo News report on Wednesday, May 17, represents a potentially significant blow to President Temer.

Cunha, who orchestrated Rousseff's impeachment, was sentenced to 15 years in March for tax evasion, money laundering and corruption, as part of Operation Car Wash.

The conversation, which was provided to prosecutors as part of a plea bargain with Batista, is now evidence with the Supreme Court.

The five Batista siblings - Joesley, Wesley, Valere, Vanessa and Vivianne - have an equal interest in J&F, the holding company, through which they and other family members control JBS, as well as investments in banking, pulp, cattle, cleaning products and construction.

On Thursday afternoon, Temer said he will not resign.

Less than a year later, Brazil is gearing up for another presidential corruption scandal, this one focused on Michel Temer, Dilma's vice president before succeeding her.

In his speech, Mr Temer categorically denied the allegation and insisted he will stay in his job.

The wide-ranging corruption investigation began three years ago with the arrest of an executive at Petrobras, Brazil's government-run oil company.

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

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Globo did not release the recordings or say how they were obtained.

There were immediate demands for Temer's removal following O Globo's report.

If Temer resigns, his term will be completed by the next in line, Rodrigo Maia, speaker of the Lower House, who is facing his own federal graft investigation.

Two small allied parties pulled their support for his agenda in Congress and one Cabinet minister resigned amid talk that others might follow.

Already a Who's Who of the elite has been imprisoned or placed under investigation.

A return to power by Lula and the PT would mean a continuation of the capitalist austerity policies initiated by his government, continued under Rousseff and deepened under Temer.

She was found guilty by Congress of illegally manipulating the government's accounts to mask the depth of a painful recession. Temer will try to stem the flow, especially with his PMDB party's main partners, the PSDB.

New tidbits emerged about Temer's personal side after he took office. "It is not enough to overthrow the current representative of capital", she said, adding that reforms involving spending cuts need to be reversed.

Temer, whose pension and labour reforms had been viewed positively by investors, has been caught on tape encouraging a prominent executive to pay off a witness in a major corruption probe.

The O Globo newspaper reported on Wednesday night that Temer met in March with Joesley Batista, chairman of meat company JBS SA, which grew rapidly under 13 years of leftist Workers Party rule due largely to low-priced loans from Brazil's national development bank.

In his statement Thursday, Temer angrily responded to the claim, saying: "I never bought anyone's silence".

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