Brazil’s leader calls cor­rup­tion charges ‘fic­tion’

The president is ac­cused of ac­cept­ing bribes. Law­mak­ers will vote on whether to ac­cept the in­dict­ment.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Jill Langlois

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Brazil’s top pros­e­cu­tor charged President Michel Te­mer with cor­rup­tion in a 60-page in­dict­ment that said “he fooled Brazil­ian ci­ti­zens” and owed the coun­try mil­lions in com­pen­sa­tion after en­rich­ing him­self with bribe money.

The in­dict­ment marks the first time the coun­try has seen a sit­ting president face crim­i­nal charges and throws South Amer­ica’s most pop­u­lous na­tion deeper into po­lit­i­cal chaos.

Brazil’s pre­vi­ous president, Dilma Rouss­eff, was im­peached last year for fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment but never crim­i­nally charged. And the president be­fore her, Luiz Ina­cio Lula da Silva, is fac­ing crim­i­nal charges in a sep­a­rate bribery scan­dal.

In a news brief­ing Tues­day, Te­mer called the ac­cu­sa­tions against him “fic­tion” and said they were based on “il­licit ev­i­dence.”

He has pre­vi­ously de­nied any wrong­do­ing and re­fused to step down, de­spite nu­mer­ous calls for him to do so.

Brazil’s fi­nan­cial mar­kets re­mained sta­ble Tues­day, sug­gest­ing that Te­mer’s ouster is not ex­pected any­time soon, as past po­lit­i­cal dis­rup­tions have jarred the Brazil­ian cur­rency and the stock ex­change.

The president’s fate is now in the hands of the lower house of Congress. If twothirds of fed­eral deputies vote to ac­cept the cor­rup­tion charges, the case will re­turn to the Supreme Court, where a de­ci­sion to move for­ward would lead to a 180-day sus­pen­sion for the president and a trial.

After Mon­day night’s an­nounce­ment of the charges, Te­mer called a late-night meet­ing with al­lied min­is­ters, as well as Elsinho Mouco, who ran his party’s last elec­tion cam­paign.

The president is ac­cused of ac­cept­ing a bribe of $152,000 from Joes­ley Batista, whose fam­ily owns meat-pack­ing gi­ant JBS, in ex­change for help­ing the businessman sort out a prob­lem with a power plant. Ac­cord­ing to the in­dict­ment, Batista promised Te­mer and his close aide, Ro­drigo Rocha Loures, an ad­di­tional $11 mil­lion.

Batista took a plea deal to tes­tify. Loures is in jail and ex­pected to take a plea bar­gain.

Atty. Gen. Ro­drigo Janot wrote in the in­dict­ment that it is dif­fi­cult to cal­cu­late how much Te­mer owes tax­pay­ers for the da­m­age he has al­legedly done to the rep­u­ta­tion of the coun­try’s in­sti­tu­tions. The pros­e­cu­tor sug­gested the amount should be $3 mil­lion.

Evaristo Sa AFP/Getty Images

BRAZIL­IAN President Michel Te­mer rejects the cor­rup­tion charges against him at Planalto Palace.

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