Brazil President Michel Temer faces more criminal charges

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Brazilian President Michel Temer during an Economic Forum in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 16, 2017Image source, AFP
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President Michel Temer has been accused of leading a criminal group

Brazil's top anti-corruption prosecutor has charged President Michel Temer with obstruction of justice and racketeering.

It is the second set of criminal charges he faces and is based on the plea-bargain testimony of the owners of the meatpacker JBS.

They accused Mr Temer of taking bribes and of conspiring to buy the silence of a witness.

Mr Temer has strongly rejected all allegations of wrongdoing.

The earlier corruption charge was blocked by Congress, which has the power to decide whether the president should stand trial.

In the second round of charges, President Temer is accused along with six other political allies.

The Chief Prosecutor Rodrigo Janot said in a statement that Mr Temer "acted as leader of a criminal organisation" made up of senior members of his PMDB party.

He said the group had allegedly taken $190m (£140m) in bribes in return for contracts at public companies.

The charges derive in part from testimony given by the owners of the world's largest meat packer, JBS, Joesely Batista and Wesley Batista.

They told prosecutors that they met Mr Temer in his Brasilia residence and secretly recorded him allegedly discussing paying hush money to a witness.

President Temer has denied the recording shows anything incriminating.

His lawyers also challenged the testimony saying it was unreliable because Joesely Batista withheld information from prosecutors.

The latest charges must first be accepted by the Supreme Court before being sent for debate in the lower house.

The president is widely thought to have enough support in Congress to avoid being put on trial.

The allegations against Mr Temer are part of a series of wide-ranging criminal investigations by prosecutors into corruption by Brazil's elite.

Dozens of politicians and business executives have been convicted or are being charged in embezzlement and bribery schemes.