Brazil's Supreme Court releases records of Temer's alleged involvement in bribery

RIO DE JANEIRO, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Brazil's Supreme Court released on Thursday the audio recordings of a conversation between President Michel Temer and Joesley Batista, owner of meatpacker giant JBS, in which they openly discussed bribery.

In a 39-minute-long recording, Batista told Temer in informal language that he has paid money to Eduardo Cunha, formerly head of the House of Representatives, who is in jail. It is implied that the money was meant to ensure that Cunha keeps quiet on matters related to JBS.

Batista also mentioned former cabinet minister Geddel Vieira Lima, who used to serve as a bridge between him and the president but became hard to be contacted for being investigated and quitting his job.

He said that some leaked recordings of Geddel have mentioned his company and he has been "defending himself," something "being OK with Eduardo," in an allusion to his previous statement of having paid some money to Cunha.

Temer responded that "You've got to keep on doing that."

In other parts of the recording, Batista asked Temer who he can use as a middleman to talk to the latter since Geddel was no longer an option. Temer suggested Representative Rodrigo Loures.

Days later, Loures was filmed receiving 500,000 reals (about 148,000 U.S. dollars) in bribes from Batista.

On several occasions, Batista mentioned paying bribes to several people, and Temer has never seemed to challenge his statement.

Batista talked about paying a prosecutor for leaking information to him and trying to replace the prosecutor who is in charge of the investigation of him. Temer did not seem to have any opinion about the case either.

Earlier on Thursday, Temer refused to step down from office, saying that the investigation of him by the Supreme Court would show he has done nothing wrong.

The Supreme Court's decision to make the recordings public was seen by many observers as the last nail on Temer's coffin.

He has been challenged by the opposition that has filed for his impeachment due to the JBS case, and by his own ruling coalition members, as some of them believed his presence in the government has become impossible.

Temer's crisis was also worsened by his unpopularity among the public -- his approval rate fell to 4 percent in the latest polls.

To add to Temer's troubles, his presidential ticket, the joint candidacy of Dilma Rousseff for president and Temer as vice president, will be submitted to a trial by the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) in early June. If the TSE rules to declare the ticket null, Temer will be deposed.

[ Editor: meng ]


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