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Police accuse Brazil's president of corruption

June 21, 2017

Brazilian President Michel Temer had reportedly accepted bribes from businesses, police said in a report. Temer's predecessor Dilma Rousseff was impeached and removed from office following tumultuous revelations.

Brazilian President Michel Temer
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/E. Peres

Federal police said they discovered solid evidence that Brazilian President Michel Temer received bribes to help businesses, according to a preliminary report published Tuesday.

The report, which federal police provided to the supreme court, suggested that Temer engaged in "passive corruption" by accepting the bribes. Police are investigating allegations of corruption, obstruction of justice and illicit association against Temer.

Read more: Brazil's Michel Temer survives court ruling that could have ended presidency

"Faced with silence from the president and his former assistant, there is irrefutable evidence... showing strongly that passive corruption (on Temer's part) took place," the report said. 

The assistant referenced in the document is former lawmaker Rodrigo Rocha Loures, who was detained in June after being filmed carrying 500,000 reais ($154,000) in bribes paid out by an executive from JBS, the largest meat-packing company in the world.

The court alleges and Rocha Loures accepted bribes on Temer's behalf. Those allegations have been backed up by JBS Chairman Joesley Batista, who claimed that Temer has received bribes from companies since 2010, when he served as president of Brazil's lower house. 

Police opened their investigation into Temer after Brazilian newspaper O Globo released a recording of the Brazilian president endorsing hush money that Batista was purportedly paying to buy the silence of a potential witness.

Temer is the latest lawmaker to be implicated in the so-called "Car Wash" investigation, which over three years has uncovered systemic corruption among Brazil's political and business elite. Several lawmakers have been removed from office or even imprisoned as a result of the investigation. 

Federal police have requested more time to continue their investigation into the allegations against the Brazilian president. A full report containing their findings is expected to be presented to the Supreme Court later this year.

'Will not go unpunished'

Temer has vehemently denied the allegations, describing them as an effort to undermine his presidency. He has cautioned Batista of making such public accusation, saying they amount to defamation and slander.

"I warn criminals that they will not go unpunished, they will pay for what they owe and they will be help responsible for their crimes," Temer said in a video published on social networks.

Read more: Stress test for Brazilian democracy

If Brazil's top prosecutor decides to pursue a criminal prosecution of Temer, Congress will be informed and vote on the matter. A two-thirds majority will be required before the decision is handed to the Supreme Court, the only body that can decide whether to investigate Temer.

Temer was preceded by former President Dilma Rousseff, who impeached and consequently removed from office for criminal misconduct concerning the federal budget.

Brazil corruption crisis lingers on

ls/rc (AP, EFE)