JBS executive says he illegally paid millions to Brazil leaders

Elias Hubbard
May 26, 2017

"The revelation of clandestinely recorded talk has brought back the threat of a political crisis of un-scaled proportions, so the enormous effort to pull the country out of its deepest recession may turn out to be useless".

"President Michel Temer does not believe in the veracity of the declarations" in the recording, according to a statement from his office. Brazil's political crisis deepened sharply on Thursday with corruption allegations that threatened to topple the presi.

On Thursday he vowed in a TV address to stay on as president. Demonstrations calling for Temer's resignation are set to take place on Sunday, AFP reports.

In his speech, Temer categorically denied the allegation and insisted he will stay on the job.

Temer became President after Dilma Rousseff was impeached past year, casting a long shadow over the Rio Olympics.

"Beyond his own involvement in corruption, it's those unfair changes that hurt us the most", said 30-year-old consultant Renilton Santos, who came from his low-income neighborhood on the outskirts of Rio to the Thursday night protest in the city's downtown. When Joesley Batista tells Temer that he was "on good terms" with the former president of the House of Representatives, Eduardo Cunha, now in jail, Temer answers: "We have to keep it that way, okay?"

The testimony follows the release of audio that allegedly exposes a conversation between the head of the meat processing corporation JBS SA and Temer in which the president appears to encourage and approve of bribing Eduardo Cunha, the architect of his predecessor's impeachment, into silence.

Judge Edson Fachin of the supreme court wrote this week that an immediate investigation into Mr Temer was required because the alleged criminal practices "are under way or about to occur".

The daily O Globo published its call in an editorial Friday afternoon shortly after Brazil's supreme court revealed several accusations against Temer made by a business mogul. The company generally wields enormous influence among Brazilians because of its popular soap operas and media dominance. He is said to have compromising information about other politicians linked to the bribery scandal.

Dozens of leading lawmakers and a third of Temer's cabinet are under investigation over billions in political kickbacks paid by Brazil's biggest construction companies in exchange for contracts at state-run oil producer Petrobras and other government enterprises. With a formal investigation now opened, Janot's next step will be to decide whether his case is strong enough to send for consideration by the Chamber of Deputies in Congress. If the court made a decision to try him, he would be suspended from office for up to 180 days.

Cunha is in prison after a "Car Wash" judge convicted him of bribe-taking, but as a powerful insider he has always been rumored to be threatening to spill secrets on other politicians.

At least eight pieces of proposed legislation to impeach Mr Temer have been submitted in Congress.

The Temer allegations risk a new drawn-out legal fight and the undermining of his economic program - a combination of spending cuts and pension reforms that were Brazil's best hope for luring back foreign investors.

Mr Temer's administration has questioned both the legality and content of the recording.

"It is evident that Aécio Neves, in conjunction with - among others - President Michel Temer, has sought to prevent Lava Jato's investigations from proceeding, either through legislative measures or through the control of the officials who oversee the investigations", Janot said.

The scandal started with Globo's report late Wednesday that Temer had been secretly recorded while talking to Joesley Batista, an executive from the meatpacking giant JBS, on March 7.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER