Brazil ex-President Temer indicted on charges involving nuclear plant bribes

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Former Brazilian President Michel Temer was indicted on Tuesday on corruption charges brought by prosecutors who said he took part in a bribery scheme related to the Angra 3 nuclear power plant complex on the coast near Rio de Janeiro.

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's former President Michel Temer arrives at his home in Sao Paulo, Brazil March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli/File Photo

The case is part of Operation Car Wash, Brazil’s largest corruption investigation, which has put dozens of businessmen and politicians in jail since 2014.

Federal Judge Marcelo Bretas accepted charges of corruption and money laundering against Temer, his former energy minister, Wellington Moreira Franco, and six other close aides.

Temer, who left the presidency just three months ago, was arrested with the others on March 21 and released four days later. They all deny any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors said the graft at Angra was one action of a “criminal organization” that Temer had run during his four decades in public life, which they alleged received or arranged upward of 1.8 billion reais ($462.5 million) in bribes.

The investigation into kickbacks on the nuclear plant’s construction contract involves the Brazilian subsidiary of Swedish consulting firm AF Poyry, along with Brazilian engineering firms Engevix and Argeplan.

The Swedish company declined to comment on an ongoing investigation. Engevix and Argeplan did not reply to requests for comment.

Temer, 78, faces charges in another corruption investigation in which prosecutors accuse him of using a middleman to procure a suitcase full of cash from JBS SA, the controlling shareholders of the world’s largest meatpacker.

In 2017, his aide Rodrigo da Rocha Loures was caught on video by security cameras running out of a Sao Paulo restaurant carrying a bag with 500,000 reais ($128,165) in cash that prosecutors said was a bribe from the owners of JBS.

Temer denies the allegation. Rocha Loures, who has also denied the charges, is awaiting trial.

Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Additional reporting by Eduardo Simoes; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Peter Cooney