Brazil police suspect Temer, aides involved in corruption

Slideshow ( 3 images )

BRASILIA/SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil’s federal police suspect that President Michel Temer, alongside a group of close aides from his party, participated in illicit acts that rendered him up to 31.5 million reais ($10 million) in advantages and other perks.

In a report on Monday, police said there were indications that Temer, 77, and the so-called “Gang of the Lower House” might have engaged in active and passive corruption acts, fraud and other crimes. The report was sent to the Federal Supreme Court, the only court with the authority to investigate a sitting president.

While the report did not specify what advantages Temer might have obtained, it identified a series of transfers made from companies such as Odebrecht SA, and cash stemming from state contracts. The report gathered data from recent testimonies that incriminated Temer in the campaign financing of at least one ally.

According to the police, Temer’s Chief of Staff Eliseu Padilha and Wellington Moreira Franco, Temer’s privatization tzar, were also named in the investigation, which started in 2015.

The report could provide additional evidence for a second formal corruption accusation against Temer in as many months. Prosecutor-General Rodrigo Janot, whose term expires at the end of this week, filed the first almost two months ago but lower house lawmakers voted to drop it, alleging lack of sufficient evidence.

Temer has been a central figure in the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party for decades, helping create a solid bloc in the lower house that has participated in the past four administrations. He became Brazil’s vice president in 2011 and replaced his predecessor Dilma Rousseff when she was impeached last year for doctoring budget accounts.

Press representatives of Temer, who enjoys immunity from prosecution in lower-tier courts, said in a statement he “does not participate nor has ever been part of a criminal gang,” noting “he has never made use of any state structure to directly or indirectly extract any benefits from public office.”

Padilha said he would only respond to the accusation when he has access to the document. Moreira Franco told Reuters he has never participated in any illicit act.

The investigation also includes Eduardo Cunha, a former lower house speaker who accelerated Rousseff’s ouster and is jailed for his involvement in a massive bribery scandal.

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu and Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Bernadette Baum