Net closing on Brazil’s president
Refuses to quit as popularity slumps
BRAZILIAN federal police handed a top court an investigation alleging that President Michel Temer accepted bribes in exchange for political favours from the largest meatpacking company in the country as several accusations of corruption continue to swirl around the president and his allies.
The police presented evidence claiming that Temer received money illegally from Brazilian meatpacking firm JBS. A video was released earlier by investigators showing Temer aide Rodrigo Rocha Loure carrying a suitcase filled with about $150000 (R1.95 million) in cash allegedly sent from JBS to the president.
“Before the silence of the highest authority of the nation and his former special aide, the evidence obtained from the information in this probe remains unchanged and indicates, with vigour, the crime of passive corruption,” the report said.
Just weeks ago, Temer was acquitted of financial irregularities in the 2014 election campaign in which he ran as vice-president.
The ruling came just a day after he denied other corruption allegations, as an article in Veja magazine alleged that the country’s secret security service, known as Abin, spied on the judge in charge of the corruption probes known as Operation Car Wash.
The submission of the police probe came the day before it was revealed that only 2% of respondents consider the current administration in a positive light.
Temer, who was imposed by Brazil’s Senate after a parliamentary coup against democratically-elected President Dilma Rousseff, has pushed a host of unpopular neo-liberal measures, as well as being embroiled in graft probes.
The poll by DataPoder360, which was released in Wednesday, found that 75% of respondents a 10% – increase compared with a survey conducted in May rejected – Temer, while 79% of respondents preferred Temer’s resignation or an annulment of his presidency.
A total of 76% of the 2096 Brazilians interviewed agreed that his acquittal by the Superior Electoral Court was a flawed decision.
If Temer is removed, or resigns, something that he has adamantly refused to do, 87% of Brazilians prefer democratic elections.
This detail is important because if Temer’s presidency is annulled, Brazil’s Supreme Court would confer the right of congressmen and senators to approve indirect elections within 30 days. The term of the presidential substitute would end on January 1, 2019.
Temer has been embroiled in the Operation Car Wash investigations and faces charges of obstruction of justice after a wire tap of a conversation with businessman Josley Batista, chairman of JBS, appeared to show he endorsed bribery to a potential witness in corruption cases.
In the recording, Temer was heard saying after being informed that hush money was being paid to the former head of the lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha: “Look, you’ve got to keep that up.”
Executives from JBS allege they paid Temer at least $4.6 million in bribes since 2010 to help win government contracts, resolve tax disputes and receive free cheap loans from the state bank.
They also said they’ve paid about $154 million to nearly 1 900 politicians in the past decade, including some of Temer’s ministers and allies.
Judge Edson Fachin last month approved a graft probe into the leader, who has repeatedly said he is innocent of all accusations and will not resign.
The next step will be for the top federal prosecutor, Rodrigo Janot, to present formal charges against the president, which is expected by the end of next week.
By law, criminal charges against a sitting president have to be approved by two-thirds of the lower house of Congress and only then can the Supreme Court issue a conviction.
If that happens, Temer would be suspended from office and a trial would begin.
Brazil’s President Michel Temer.