Economy

Brazil's top prosecutor accuses President Temer of corruption, obstruction

Brazil's top prosecutor accuses President Temer of corruption, obstruction

The scandal started with Globo's report late Wednesday that Temer had been secretly recorded while talking to Joesley Batista, an executive from the meatpacking giant JBS, on March 7.

He is accused of having given his blessing to payments meant to keep the former speaker of the lower house, Eduardo Cunha, from spilling secrets while he is in prison for taking millions of dollars in bribes.

Cunha is in prison after a "Car Wash" judge convicted him of bribe-taking, but as a powerful insider he has always been rumored to be threatening to spill secrets on other politicians.

The scandals that have engulfed Brazil's political class and many business elites reduce the chances that Temer, a conservative who took office after leftist former President Dilma Rousseff was impeached past year, can push through economic reforms crucial for Latin America's biggest country to recover from its worst recession on record.

Temer addressed the nation on Thursday, denying that he had authorized any bribes and vowing to continue in office.

Organised mainly via social media, the largest protests on Thursday took place in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and the nation's capital, Brasilia, Efe news reported.

Protests calling for Temer's resignation broke out in several cities Thursday, most attracting a few hundred people.

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But Temer, who just a few days ago was celebrating his claim to have begun lifting Brazil from a punishing recession, is now hanging on by his fingernails.

Batista and other executives who signed the plea bargain stand by "the veracity of all the content delivered to public prosecutors", the company said in a statement it sent by email following Temer's speech.

Rousseff and her leftist allies accuse him of having engineered her impeachment and his own rise to power previous year in what they say amounted to a coup d'etat.

Temer believes an investigation into whether he condoned hush money should be shelved after he listened to the recording that triggered a political crisis in Brasilia, a presidential aide told Reuters.

A one-time Temer ally, Cunha was convicted on corruption charges relating to Brazil's sweeping graft probe known as Operation Car Wash.

Even a former chief justice of the Supreme Court, Joaquim Barbosa, called for Mr Temer's head.

Folha verified that in April 2017, the Attorney General of the Republic, Rodrigo Janot, consulted Justice Fachin on the possibility of investigating Temer.

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Former presidents Luis Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff received $50m and $30m respectively to fund political campaigns, the testimony says.

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

The Brazilian stock market tumbled by 10 percent overall, and stocks fell sharply for the country's leading companies, such as Petrobras and Banco do Brasil.

In a plea bargain by the same man who recorded Temer, released as part of the document dump by the Supreme Tribunal Federal, the president is accused of taking $1.5 million in bribes.

Valor cited an unnamed source saying that Brazilian regulators CVM had become aware that the Batistas' group of companies acquired a USA dollar position that could have exceeded $1 billion in the local currency market hours before the plea deal news broke.

The revelations are the latest fallout from the so "Car Wash" investigation into a kickback scheme at state oil company Petrobras. Brazilians must mobilize, must take to the streets to forcefully demand the immediate resignation of Michel Temer, ' he said on Twitter.

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