Brazil’s President Faces New Graft Charges


BRASILIA (Dis­patches) - Brazil­ian President Michel Te­mer was charged with ob­struc­tion of jus­tice and rack­e­teer­ing on Thurs­day, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment posted on the prose­cu­tor gen­eral’s of­fice web­site, threat­en­ing to de­lay the gov­ern­ment’s eco­nomic re­form agenda in Con­gress.

It is the sec­ond set of crim­i­nal charges filed against the president based on the plea-bar­gain tes­ti­mony of the own­ers of the world’s largest meat­packer, JBS SA.

They ac­cused Te­mer of tak­ing bribes in re­turn for po­lit­i­cal favours and of con­spir­ing to buy the si­lence of a wit­ness who could im­pli­cate the leader.

In a state­ment on Thurs­day, Te­mer strongly re­jected all al­le­ga­tions of wrong­do­ing.

Te­mer’s ear­lier cor­rup­tion charge, that he took bribes from JBS of­fi­cials, was blocked in Au­gust by Te­mer’s al­lies in the lower house of Con­gress, which has the power to de­cide whether a president should stand trial by the Supreme Court.

De­spite the lower house’s move to block the charges, they re­main valid and can be pur­sued by pros­e­cu­tors once Te­mer leaves of­fice. His term ends on Jan. 1, 2019.

Brazil’s top pub­lic prose­cu­tor Ro­drigo Janot has also filed charges against Joes­ley Batista, the bil­lion­aire for­mer chair­man of JBS who im­pli­cated Te­mer. Batista was ar­rested on Sun­day for con­ceal­ing other crimes in his plea bar­gain deal.

Batista’s lawyer An­to­nio Car­los Kakay re­jected the charges brought by Janot, ar­gu­ing in a state­ment that the prose­cu­tor had vi­o­lated the rules of plea bar­gains by us­ing his client’s tes­ti­mony to in­crim­i­nate him.

On Wed­nes­day, Batista’s brother Wes­ley, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of JBS SA, was also ar­rested for al­leged in­sider trad­ing to avoid hefty losses re­lated to the May plea deal.

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