Finance

President Temer refuses to step down amid corruption chaos

President Temer refuses to step down amid corruption chaos

Aecio Neves had been recorded asking Batista for $700,000 to pay for his defense in the "Car Wash" corruption probe.

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

Allegedly Michel Temer authorised paying hush money to a jailed politician.

They made an odd pair - the former communist guerrilla and first female president coupled with the epitome of Brazil's white male establishment.

If Brazil's attorney general's office decides there is evidence that Temer obstructed justice, it can request that the lower house put the president on trial before the Supreme Court.

Brazil's Vice President Michel Temer speaks during a news conference in Brasilia, Brazil April 11, 2016. Temer is denying a report that he endorsed the alleged bribing of a jailed former congressman to keep him quiet.

"Our entrepreneurial spirit and huge will to work in the face of a Brazilian system that presented us with several difficulties to sell our products, led us to make the choice to make inappropriate payments to public agents", he said in a statement Thursday.

"With allegations as serious as these, President Michel Temer should consider resigning out of respect to the extraordinary efforts and recent achievements of Brazil's historical fight against corruption", said Transparency International Chair José Ugaz.

As long as Temer stays in power, the political turmoil could leave the country adrift, just as it needs a strong hand to pull its economy out of a deep and protracted recession. Brazil's currency, the real, lost 8 percent of its value against the USA dollar.

Publicly, however, Temer rejected calls to resign as people returned to the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the capital Brasilia with renewed vigour to call for fresh elections and his resignation and imprisonment. Neves, who almost won the presidency in 2014 and planned to run again next year, has denied wrongdoing.

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Neves' whereabouts Thursday were not known.

Temer on Thursday vehemently rejected calls for him to resign from both the opposition and members of his own ruling coalition.

The allegations plunged Brazil back into political turmoil less than a year after Temer, 76, played a key role in the impeachment of his predecessor, former President Dilma Rousseff.

The statement from Temer's office confirmed that the president did meet with Batista in March. According to the Globo report, Batista secretly recorded the conversation with Temer and gave it to justice officials as part of plea bargain negotiations.

Temer replied: "You need to keep doing that, OK?" The report in O Globo has effectively destroyed his support among lawmakers, said Pedro Paulo Silveira, chief economist at the Nova Futura brokerage in São Paulo.

JBS representatives did not respond to emails sent by The Associated Press seeking comment.

That seeming harmony between Rousseff's Workers' Party and PMDB was paper thin and Temer's loyalty to his boss even thinner.

At the same time, a massive corruption scandal involving the state oil company Petrobras was unfolding.

Rousseff accused Temer of carrying out a "coup" to impede the Car Wash probe, in which more than 90 leading business and political figures have been convicted so far.

In it, two men can be heard talking about Cunha, who is now serving a sentence on corruption charges but many believe could still provide damaging testimony about dozens of other politicians.


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