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Top prosecutor accuses president of corruption

20 Mai 2017

A leading newspaper, O Globo, reported Wednesday that prosecutors had recordings of Mr. Temer purportedly encouraging payments allegedly meant to silence former speaker of the House Eduardo Cunha, who was jailed in October awaiting trial on charges of corruption and money laundering.

If confirmed, the accusations could prove devastating for Mr Temer's crisis-hit administration, though he has vowed to prove his innocence. "I will not resign".

"As a Brazilian citizen I am obliged to demand our president's resignation and direct elections so that Brazil can decide its future", said history professor Jose Vicente, 51, who was at the Rio protest. He said another company executive gave Temer almost $5 million in 2014.

The scandal has sparked protests and prompted eight impeachment filings, raising serious doubts whether Temer, 76, can remain as president.

The country's Bovespa stock index fell in Sao Paulo trading by about 10.5%, forcing a temporary trade stop for stocks. Brazil's currency, the real, lost 8 percent of its value against the USA dollar.

O Globo also claims to have surveillance video proof of bribes being handed off that appear to correspond with the orders in the conversation between Batista and Temer. The Brazilian newspaper O GLOBo says that it has a sound recording in which President Temer advocates paying for the silence of Eduardo Cunha.

The documents released by the Supreme Court on Friday further ratchet up pressure on Temer, who was rocked earlier this week by allegations he encouraged the payment of money to a former top lawmaker convicted earlier this year of graft.

The plea-bargain testimony indicates the illegal payments were made to facilitate the company's access to loans from BNDES that date back to 2005.

If true, the allegations could prove damning for Temer's beleaguered presidency, which has been rocked by one corruption scandal after another since he took office.

Temer, then vice president, took power a year ago after President Dilma Rousseff was impeached and later removed from office for illegally managing the federal budget.

Cunha was jailed for 15 years in March for corruption.

Later on Friday, the entirety of Batista's plea bargain was expected to be released.

Upon hearing about the bribe scheme, Temer says, "You need to keep it going, OK?"

The latest scandal began on Wednesday, when O Globo newspaper said it had obtained an explosive recording in which Temer supported corruption. The Temer government is in the midst of carrying out extensive fiscal reforms to address the significant fiscal challenges that have been accumulating over the past decade with the Lula-Rousseff governments, with the fiscal deficit hovering close to 9% of GDP and public debt levels at 70% of GDP.

Lower House Speaker Rodrigo Maia would take over for up to 30 days to organize voting by 513 deputies and 81 senators for a new president to serve out Temer's term, which ends in December 2018.

Dilma is the former chairwoman of the state-controlled oil company, Petrobras, which is at the center of the investigation.

Many Brazilians say the years of political turmoil and relentless corruption scandals, piled on top of economic woes, have left them tired.

Austerity reforms pushed by Temer, who has denied any wrongdoing, are considered crucial to revive the economy of Latin America's biggest country, mired in its worst recession on record.

Meanwhile, Temer's latest approval rate was staggering four per cent.

Top prosecutor accuses president of corruption