Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
USA | By Kelli Rowe

Brazil's Temer denies corruption charges

Brazil's Temer denies corruption charges

In an official statement, Temer admitted to meeting Batista, but said he never tried to buy Cunha's silence. However, top federal prosecutor Rodrigo Janot has said that under Brazilian law, Temer can not be investigated for crimes committed before he became president until he leaves office.

The presidential palace has denied all claims of impropriety.

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

Late Wednesday, Globo reported that JBS meat-packing company executive Joesley Batista had recorded Temer endorsing a bribe to silence Cunha, who was previously an ally of Temer, though the two appear to have had a falling out. More than 80 people have been charged with bribery and money laundering to date.

The Eurasia risk consultancy said the new allegation could be a big problem for Temer.

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Mr Neves is being investigated in several corruption cases related to the "Car Wash" probe into kickbacks to politicians. The jailed politician's testimony could reportedly implicate scores of politicians, including the president. There was an agreement to save Temer's mandate to keep governability.

Following the removal of Rousseff, it has appeared hard for Temer to win the public's trust, with thousands of protesters regularly taking to the streets, especially over a controversial bill set to freeze government spending on healthcare, education, pensions, infrastructure, and defense until 2037, adopted back in November.

Mr Cunha led the impeachment fight that removed Dilma Rousseff from the presidency a year ago and put Mr Temer, then the vice president, into power.

A recent survey credited Temer with only 9-percent voter endorsement for performance - below Rousseff's standing at the moment of her suspension for allegedly masking data on the depth of the country's recession.

Brazil's Bovespa stock index lost 9 percent, its steepest fall since the 2008 financial crisis, on concerns the probe could derail Temer's fiscal reforms. The country's currency, the real, closed down 8 percent, erasing its gains this year, and the Brazilian stock market fell 9 percent, its worst daily loss in nine years.

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Brazil's Treasury and central bank said they stood ready to keep markets liquid before acting to smooth volatility in local currency and bond markets.

Cunha has been found guilty of taking millions of dollars in bribes in Brazil's giant Petrobras oil company embezzlement scandal.

Officers in the southern city of Curitiba searched the home of federal deputy Rodrido Rocha Loures, a longtime confidant of Temer and a member of the president's Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, or PMDB. Temer is denying a report that he endorsed the alleged bribing of a jailed former congressman to keep him quiet.

The paper reported that Batista and his brother, Chief Executive Wesley Batista, presented the recording to prosecutors as part of plea bargain negotiations, adding that JBS also hired a law firm to discuss a leniency deal with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Direct elections in this situation, however, are forbidden by the Brazilian constitution. If not, the Brazilian Congress will have to chose a new president indirectly.

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Piling on the pressure, the Supreme Court gave its green light to the opening of a formal investigation into Temer's alleged involvement with the hush money.

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