Brazilian President Michel Temer has been charged with obstruction of justice and leading a criminal organization. As sitting president, he will only face trial if two-thirds of the lower house vote to suspend him.
Attorney General Rodrigo Janot has accused Temer of paying hush funds to a former speaker of the lower Chamber of Deputies and to an operator of his political group. He also alleged Temer led a criminal organization that operated in Brazil's Congress and the executive branch.
Janot's statement said Temer had "acted as leader of a criminal organization" comprising senior officials from his center-right PMDB party, who allegedly took kickbacks for contracts at public companies like oil giant Petrobras.
Janot said Temer had led a criminal organization since May 2016, when he assumed the presidency after President Dilma Rousseff was impeached.
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Temer: Corruption charges 'absurd'
The charge is connected to another trial taking place at which executives of the world's largest meatpacker, JBS, have made plea bargain testimony in which they accuse Temer of taking bribes in return for political favors and conspiring to cover up testimony that could implicate him.
The widely expected charges came hours after authorities raided the home of a member of Temer's cabinet.
Temer has denied any wrongdoing and is widely thought to have enough support in Congress to avoid being forced to face trial.
He said in a written statement later on Thursday the Janot is on an "irresponsible campaign" of making allegations to cover his own failures and called the corruption charges "absurd."
Janot charged Temer with bribery earlier this year, but in August lawmakers refused to allow proceedings to go forward.
jbh/cmk (AP, AFP, Reuters)