Top newspaper calls on Brazil leader to quit

President Michel Temer faced new pressure to resign Friday, after Brazil's supreme court said prosecutors are investigating him for obstruction of justice and corruption, and a government witness claimed his company paid $1.5 million to Temer in bribes.

Batista and other executives who signed the plea bargain stand by "the veracity of all the content delivered to public prosecutors", the company said in a statement it sent by email following Temer's speech.

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.

The audio was first reported by Globo newspaper Wednesday night.

The allegations of obstruction of justice against Temer caused Brazil's stock market to tumble on Thursday, with some analysts saying the president's woes would make it hard to continue his austerity drive, including an overhaul of Brazil's pension system. Aecio Neves of trying to derail the three-year-old "Car Wash" investigation into a huge kickback scheme at the state-run oil company Petrobras via legislative means and by influencing police investigators.

According to the report - which Temer immediately denied in a written statement - the president discussed the matter with Joesley Batista, an executive from the meatpacking giant JBS, on March 7.

Lula now leads in polls ahead of the 2018 election but he faces five separate corruption trials and if convicted would be barred from seeking office.

Newspaper Valor Economico, citing an unnamed source, said CVM had been informed that companies owned by the Batista brothers bought over $1 billion in USA dollar contracts in the local market hours before the plea deal news broke.

At least eight pieces of proposed legislation to impeach Temer have been submitted in Congress, and a stream of people from many walks of life has been calling for him to step down.

Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a leftist icon for many in Latin America, faces five corruption trials, while a third of the Senate and a third of Temer's own cabinet are under investigation.

That wasn't all: in a plea bargain released as part of the document dump by the Supreme Federal Tribunal, Temer is accused of taking $1.5 million in bribes. Meanwhile, thousands of Brazilians turned out in Sao Paulo to demand the president's resignation, shouting "Fora Temer" (Temer Out).

On the tape, which was made public Thursday, Batista told Temer that he was paying money every month to Cunha "to keep things under control" and Temer replied: "You need to keep doing that, OK?"

Brazilian President Michel Temer has taken millions of dollars in bribes since 2010, according to testimony released by the Supreme Court.

Lawyers for Lula said he was innocent.

Brazil needs immediate direct elections to overcome the ongoing political crisis, the county's former leader wrote on her website on Friday.

When her enemies began circling in 2015, charging her with having illegally manipulated the government books to hide the depth of Brazil's recession, Temer incrementally distanced himself. The office of the attorney-general understood to have sought his arrest and his PSDB (Brazilian Social Democracy Party) has already moved to remove him from the leadership of the party.

Cunha is now imprisoned for 15 years on charges of money laundering and tax evasion.

Temer has denied any wrongdoing and on Thursday he promised not to resign.

The recordings were declassified by Supreme Court justice Edson Fachin.

In addition to the purported payoffs to Cunha, President Temer and Batista have also been linked to the Petrobras scandal. Activists from across the political spectrum called for large protests this weekend.


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