May 19 (UPI) — Brazil’s top court released testimony Friday from a meat packing magnate who said he paid President Michel Temer and his two predecessors millions in bribes.
If true, the allegations could prove damning for Temer’s beleaguered presidency, which has been rocked by one corruption scandal after another since he took office.
The allegations surfaced a day after a recording of a meeting between Temer and Joesley Bautista, head of the massive JBS food company, during which Temer is heard authorizing Bautista to pay millions in hush money to a convicted former politician who was aware of the prevalence of bribery and corruption in the highest levels of Brazilian government.
Temer has denied wrongdoing and in a speech broadcast throughout the country Thursday, pledged to continue as president despite widespread calls for his resignation.
Temer rose to power after the impeachment of his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, on similar corruption charges.
Bautista testified as part of a plea deal with prosecutors that he personally paid Temer $2.5 million over a number of years under the guise of campaign contributions. He said another company executive gave Temer nearly $5 million in 2014.
Bautista said he also paid Rousseff $30 million in exchange for the government’s help in JBS purchasing another company. He said he also paid $50 million to former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva in exchange for government favors.
Both former presidents have denied wrongdoing.
Temer is deeply unpopular in Brazil in the wake of the widespread corruption investigation known as Operation Car Wash, though his center-right party remains in charge as part of a coalition government. A third of Temer’s Cabinet is under official investigation for corruption.
Opposition parties have called for Temer’s impeachment and snap elections to elect a new Parliament.