Brazilian president calls probe into him 'persecution'
Brazilâs President Michel Temer speaks at the Planalto Presidential Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, Friday, April 27, 2018. President Temer has indignantly refuted accusations he has laundered money and says he will suggest that his minister of security investigate leaks to the media about the investigation. Authorities are investigating whether Temer accepted a bribe in exchange for a signing a decree favorable to operators at the countryâs largest port. (Eraldo Peres/Associated Press) April 27 at 5:49 PM
SAO PAULO â" Brazilian President Michel Temer blasted a corruption investigation against him as âcriminal persecutionâ on Friday, urging a crackdown on leaks to the media after a news report suggested he use d his wife and young son to hide illicit gains.
The investigation into whether Temer accepted a bribe in exchange for signing a decree favorable to operators at the countryâs largest port is just one in a series of corruption allegations roiling Brazilian politics. Earlier this month, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva began serving his jail sentence after his own conviction on graft charges. A sprawling corruption investigation has netted many other politicians and executives.
Temer himself has already twice been accused of corruption â" but Congress voted both times to spare him a trial while he remains president. Then in September, Brazilâs top court authorized an investigation into the port decree, raising the possibility he could face charges a third time.
The Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reported Friday that Federal Police working on that probe suspect Temer hid the alleged bribe by purchasing properties in the names of relatives, including his wife and his 9-year-old son. The paper did not name its source, and the police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a hastily arranged televised address, Temer called the accusations lies and lashed out at the implication of his family.
âOnly an irresponsible person, an ill-intentioned person would dare try to incriminate me, my family, my son of 9 years old, as money launderers,â he said to the journalists. âWhat world are we in? I tell you, sirs, itâs incredible, itâs revolting.â
He called the probe and the leaks a âcriminal persecution, masquerading as an investigation.â
He said his income over 60 years had provided more than enough money to justify the purchases he made but also presented himself as a modest civil servant who played by the rules.
âI donât have a beach house, I donât have a country house, I donât have an apartment in Miami,â he said. That explanation risks seeming out of touch in a country where even owning one residence is but a dream for many and travel abroad completely out of reach.
He also expressed dismay that the media received information he said his own defense team had been denied. He said he would âsuggestâ to Public Security Minister Raul Jungmann that he investigate the leaks. Brazilian media reported that Jungmann ordered just such a probe later Friday.
This is not the first time Temer has taken to the airwaves to declare his innocence. His administration has been dogged by corruption allegations and scandal since he took office in 2016. In the course of one of the previous corruption probes involving Temer, investigators filmed one of his aides carrying a suitcase filled with about $150,000 in local currency that police said was a bribe destined for the president. Temer denies that.
The charges against Temer in that case and another one are on hold after Congress voted that he should not stand trial while in office. He could still face those charges after his term ends.
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