Brazilian federal police handed a top court an investigation alleging that President Michel Temer accepted bribes in exchange for political favors from the largest meatpacking company in the country as several accusations of corruption continue to swirl around the president and his close allies.
The institution presented evidence Tuesday claiming that Temer received money illegally from Brazilian meatpacking firm JBS. A video was released earlier by investigators showing Temer aide Rodrigo Rocha Loure carrying a suitcase filled with about US$150,000 in cash allegedly sent from JBS to the president.
“Before the silence of the highest authority of the nation and his former special aide, the evidence obtained from the information in this probe remains unchanged and indicates, with vigor, the crime of passive corruption,” the report said.
Just weeks ago, Temer was acquitted of financial irregularities in the 2014 election campaign in which he ran as vice president. The ruling came just a day after he denied other corruption allegations, as an article in Veja magazine alleged that the country's secret security service, known as Abin, spied on the judge in charge of the corruption probes known as Operation Car Wash.
Temer has also been embroiled in the Operation Car Wash investigations and faces charges of obstruction of justice after a wiretap of a conversation with businessman Josley Batista, chairman of JBS, appeared to reveal he endorsed bribery to a potential witness in corruption cases. In the recording, Temer was heard saying after being informed that hush money was being paid to the former head of the lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, “Look, you've got to keep that up.”
Executives from JBS allege they paid Temer at least US$4.6 million in bribes since 2010 to help win government contracts, resolve tax disputes and receive free cheap loans from the state bank.
They also said they've paid about US$154 million to nearly 1,900 politicians in the past decade, including some of Temer's ministers and close allies.
Judge Edson Fachin last month approved a graft probe into the leader, who has repeatedly said he is innocent of all accusations and he will not resign. Antonio Oliveira, a lawyer for Temer, told Reuters in a written statement on Tuesday that he had no comment about the police report. The president is currently visiting Russia.
The next step will be for the top federal prosecutor, Rodrigo Janot, to present formal charges against the president, which is expected by the end of next week.
By law, criminal charges against a sitting president have to be approved by two-thirds of the lower house of Congress and only then can the Supreme Court issue a conviction. If that happens, Temer would then be suspended from office and a trial would begin.