Brazil’s top prosecutor is accusing President Michel Temer of corruption and obstruction of justice, according to an investigation released by the country’s supreme court on Friday.
His statement followed one of the most chaotic sessions for the country’s financial markets since the global financial crisis, with stocks on its benchmark Ibovespa falling more than 8% and the real plunging 7.5% against the USA dollar, the most since 1999, despite the intervention of the central bank of Brazil.
In a fortnight Mr Temer was about to start pushing his economic reform plan through Congress. Opposition politicians called for his impeachment. Bills making their way through Congress that would loosen labor laws and shore up the pension system – two measures Temer has said are vital to restoring investor confidence in Brazil – have now stalled. “Even if the recordings don’t show something that bad, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube”, said Claudio Couto, a political science professor at Fundacao Getulio Vargas, a Sao Paulo-based university and think tank.
A small group of demonstrators threw bottles and fireworks at military police, who deployed tear gas and stun grenades in response, Globo TV reported. Crowds gathered outside the Presidential residence, chanting “Fora Temer” (Temer out).
Five of the top 10 trending topics in Brazil on Twitter were related to the scandal, including the subject “Temer will resign”.
Brazil’s highest court opened an investigation into the accusation against Temer late Thursday and lifted the seal on the almost 39-minute recording, which is scratchy and often inaudible.
“Michel Temer is like that boyfriend who doesn’t know it’s over”, one Twitter user said.
It is believed that Cunha has evidence on a number of high-ranking politicians and business leaders in a massive nationwide “Car Wash” corruption investigation into bribes to obtain contracts at state-owned oil-giant, Petrobras. In recent months, the probe has moved closer to the president and his circle. And a third of the Senate is now being probed in the “Operation Car Wash” investigation that has uncovered massive bribery and embezzlement in Brazil’s elite-with Temer’s probe being just the latest offshoot.
The ongoing scandal deepened at dawn on Thursday as police searched the Rio de Janeiro home and Brasilia office of Senator Aecio Neves, who almost won the presidency in 2014 and planned to run again next year.
Temer has denied any wrongdoing and on Thursday refused to resign.
Globo also reported that Batista had recorded Temer endorsing a bribe to silence Cunha.
Crucially, a source in the PSDB, the main partner with Temer’s PMDB, says that if the Globo report is confirmed they will quit the government. He promised not to tolerate corruption going forward.
The hush money allegations left Temer teetering barely a year after he took power in controversial circumstances, replacing his impeached predecessor, leftist president Dilma Rousseff.
“I can’t see how Temer survives this”, said David Fleischer, a political science professor at the University of Brasilia.
Temer’s crisis was also worsened by his unpopularity among the public – his approval rate fell to 4 percent in the latest polls.
At least eight pieces of proposed legislation to impeach Temer have been submitted in Congress, and a steady stream of people from many walks of life are continue to call for him to step down.