Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Medicine | By Megan Pierce

Brazil's President Says He Won't Resign Despite Allegations of Corruption

Brazil's President Says He Won't Resign Despite Allegations of Corruption

Brazil's President Michel Temer on Thursday defiantly said he would not resign from office despite a Supreme Court decision authorizing an investigation into allegations he condoned bribery of a potential witness in a major corruption probe.

The operation came after O Globo newspaper reported on leaked testimony indicating that Mr. Temer approved payoffs to buy the silence of Eduardo Cunha, the mastermind behind last year's ouster of former president Dilma Rousseff.

An unpopular president who ascended to the job after Dilma Rousseff was impeached, Temer's legitimacy rested on his ability to unite Brazil's three dozen political parties.

"An experienced politician and legal expert himself, Temer has avoided interfering with the investigations", said Sidney Nakahodo, a lecturer at Columbia University's School of global and Public Affairs specializing in political, social and economic development in Brazil.

Fears the scandal could force Temer to step down or derail his ambitious reform agenda drove the biggest daily drop in the Brazilian real since 1999, while the benchmark Bovespa stock index closed 9 percent lower. The Brazilian Real lost 8 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar in the first half of the day.

The ongoing scandal deepened at dawn Thursday as police searched the Rio de Janeiro home and Brasilia office of Sen.

Authorities released photos of Loures receiving 500,000 reais from a JBS employee, though Loures denied any wrongdoing.

The recording is of a conversation between the president and Chairman Joesley Batista of meat giant JBS, made by Mr Batista using a hidden device, O Globo says.

On Friday, Brazilian President Michel Temer, like the rest of his country, listened to the explosive secret audio recording that directly implicated him in South America's biggest-ever corruption probe.

Batista told Temer that he was paying money to make sure that Cunha - thought to have encyclopedic knowledge of Brazil's notoriously dirty political world - would keep quiet while serving his jail sentence for taking bribes. In a statement late on Wednesday, the president's office said Mr Temer did not participate or authorise any attempt to keep Cunha from reaching a plea bargain with justice officials.

The report, which was described as a "bombshell" by media, caused Congress to suspend its session, with the opposition Workers' Party calling for snap elections and one member for Temer's immediate impeachment. Globo then posted the almost 39-minute recording, which is scratchy and often inaudible.

Protests were planned for later Thursday. He has completed one year in office without any relevant proposals to tackle the systemic causes of corruption in the country, and also shown little concern for even minimal ethical standards, nominating and maintaining in key positions people tainted by serious allegations of corruption or under formal investigation.

JBS representatives did not respond to an email sent by The Associated Press late Wednesday seeking comment.

Senator Ricardo Ferraço, a Temer ally in charge of drafting the government's labor reform, said he had halted his work until the political crisis was resolved.

Some Temer allies tried to shore up confidence, but others said his Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, or PMDB, was in tatters. Temer's approval ratings are hovering around 10 percent. The speaker of the lower house of Congress, Rodrigo Maia, who is next in line of succession due to the absence of a vice president, would take over until Congress elects a new president within 30 days to lead the country until the end of next year.

"[There] are some eerie similarities between political developments and market reactions in Brazil and in the United States, and both are playing out simultaneously", said Thomas Trebat, director of the Columbia Global Centers, Rio de Janeiro.

The current allegations is not new territory for Temer, who is also accused of illegally financing his campaign during the 2014 elections.

Like this: