Brazil’s leader calls corruption charges ‘fiction’
The president is accused of accepting bribes. Lawmakers will vote on whether to accept the indictment.
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.
BRAZILIAN President Michel Temer rejects the corruption charges against him at Planalto Palace.