President Temer of Brazil Faces New Corruption Charges


In June, Mr. Temer became Brazil’s first sitting president to face criminal charges when the attorney general charged him with accepting a $152,000 bribe. Last month, the lower house voted to spare Mr. Temer from standing trial in that case. In the weeks before the vote, Mr. Temer doled out millions of dollars in federal money to key congressional districts, in what some critics called an effort to sway lawmakers.

Mr. Temer has vehemently denied all allegations of wrongdoing and tried to have Mr. Janot removed from all cases related to him, arguing that the charges were politically motivated. This week, the Supreme Court denied the request.

Despite an approval rating in the single digits, Mr. Temer has rallied support among investors by portraying himself as the only leader capable of pulling Brazil out of the economic quagmire left by his predecessors from the leftist Workers’ Party. And while he has used up much of his political capital in Congress, a new twist in the investigation is expected to work in his favor.

Both the initial charges and this latest round are based on the testimony of top executives of the meat-processing giant JBS, Joesley Batista and his brother Wesley. As part of a plea bargain that enabled them to avoid prison, the brothers testified that Mr. Temer and several other politicians had accepted bribes.

As part of that case, Joesley Batista had secretly recorded a meeting Mr. Temer at his residence in Brasília. It was another recording, this one of Mr. Batista, that appeared to call into question the reliability of the witnesses.

In that recording, which surfaced last week and seemed to have been submitted to the authorities inadvertently, Joesley Batista suggests that he had improper contact with a former prosecutor from the attorney general’s office while he was seeking a plea deal.

After the new recording emerged, Mr. Janot revoked the immunity of Mr. Batista and the other person heard on the audio, Ricardo Saud, a former executive for J & F Investimentos, which controls JBS. On Sunday, they turned themselves in to the federal police. The two men are defendants in the latest case against Mr. Temer.

The recording reduces the “political punch” of the new charges, according to João Augusto de Castro Neves, the Latin America director at the Eurasia Group, a political risk consulting company, “reinforcing our view that Mr. Temer will have an easier time defeating the second motion against him.”

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