Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil's Michel Temer denies tycoon's corruption allegations

Joesley Batista speaking in a seminar in Sao Paulo ( 27/10/2015) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Joesley Batista (pictured) says President Temer heads the country's most dangerous criminal organisation

Brazilian President Michel Temer has denied allegations that he is involved in a major corruption scheme.

Business tycoon Joesley Batista accused Mr Temer of leading "the country's most dangerous criminal organisation".

In an interview with Época magazine published on Saturday, the billionaire alleged that Mr Temer had asked for money several times in recent years in exchange for political favours.

Mr Temer's lawyers intend to file a lawsuit against Mr Batista on Monday.

Mr Batista last month released a secret recording incriminating the president, a move that caused political uproar and led to calls for Mr Temer to step down.

The business mogul was co-operating with the police as part of a plea bargain deal he clinched when the authorities started investigating him in Operation Car Wash - the country's largest-ever corruption investigation that has implicated several big names.

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Responding to his comments on Saturday, President Temer's office called Mr Batista "a notorious bandit" and criticised the police for allowing him to "escape prosecution".

He said that the terms of the deal made the billionaire "Brazil's most successful criminal ever".

Mr Temer added that he would take "all appropriate actions" against Mr Batista.

Under the plea bargain, Joesley Batista and his brother Wesley admitted to bribing almost 1,900 politicians in recent years.

They were being investigated for their role in two corruption scandals.

Joesley Batista gave prosecutors an audio tape - leaked to the press - where Mr Temer appears to condone bribing a witness.

In it, Mr Temer appears to discuss making hush-money payments to silence politician Eduardo Cunha, who is currently in prison.

Mr Temer has said the recording is genuine and was taken from a meeting in March but denies any wrongdoing.

"I never authorised any payments for someone to be silent," he said in a televised address. "I did not buy anyone's silence. I fear no accusations."

The president said the recording had been tampered with.

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