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Financial News: BRAZIL: House Committee To Vote On Corruption Charge

BRAZIL: House Committee To Vote On Corruption Charge Against Temer

10/17/2017 - 16:19:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - A Brazilian House of Representatives committee started on Tuesday the procedures to decide, for the second time this year, if President Michel Temer should go on trial for corruption.

Public prosecutors presented the first corruption charge against the Brazilian President at the end of June, based on an audio recording of an informal late-night meeting between Temer and JBS's owner Joesley Batista that went public in May.

During the conversation, the president points a former aide, Rodrigo Rocha Loures, who would help Batista to interfere in a legal dispute between JBS and Petrobras.

The businessman later made a deal with Loures to pay a R$ 500,000 (US$ 150,000) weekly graft payment in exchange for the illegal help, and prosecutors believed that Temer would be the final recipient of the money.

Other evidence presented against Temer at that time included a video of the moment when Loures receives the graft payment from a JBS employee, after discussing the terms of the deal.

Prosecutors sent the charges to the House of Representatives in accord with the Brazilian Constitution, which requires authorization from the lower house of Congress to any presidential trial.

That charge was first reviewed by a House committee in July, and the congressman in charge of guiding the vote on the matter said that lawmakers should allow Temer to be accused and trialed. The president's allies, nevertheless, replaced 17 of the 66 members of the committee and managed to change that guidance.

When the charge reached the House floor, 492 representatives voted on the complaint, and while most of them (263) were in favor of prosecuting Temer, 227 voted for shielding the president - or 55 more than the 172 needed.

The government and investors were already expecting the House to protect Temer from a trial, but the representative's votes showed that some coalition parties were divided on the topic. PSDB, which belongs to the government coalition in spite of waning support for Michel Temer from party members, had 22 votes in favor of blocking the charges against the president, and 21 votes to prosecute him.

The second charge against Temer went public last month, when public prosecutors accused him of leading a criminal group that received at least R$ 587 million (US$ 187 million) in graft payments.

The complaint says that Temer and other members of his political party (PMDB), including current members of his cabinet, used public companies and agencies to commit crimes in exchange for money.

Prosecutors also say that Temer and other PMDB politicians engineered a plan to oust Dilma Rousseff from the Presidency last year because of a perceived lack of effort from her government to stop investigations about corruption schemes.

Investors believe that the House of Representatives will shield Temer again from a trial in the Supreme Court, partly because the guidance vote in the first House committee in charge of analyzing the corruption charge favors the president.

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