Brazilian President Going to G20 Summit After All. He Announced He Would Skip It

    Michel Temer with the president of the senate, Eunício Oliveira, leaving to Germany - Beto Barata/PR

    Brazilian President Michel Temer has reversed his decision to skip the upcoming summit of G20 leaders in Germany and decided to attend the event, which will take place in Hamburg on July 7-8, presidential office said late on Monday amid the probe into Temer’s alleged involvement in corruption. Temer left to Germany this Thursday afternoon.

    Last week, the Brazilian presidential administration, days after Temer was accused of corruption by the country’s prosecutor, announced that the leader will not attend the G20 summit and did not give any reasons for such decision.

    The presidential office also did not provide any reasons behind the reversal of decision.

    Temer’s leading advisors convinced him that he could not be absent from the meeting, the O Globo news portal reported.

    The media had speculated the president would use the time he would save not going to Germany trying to save his job.

    A probe was opened against Temer last month after local media leaked an audio recording in which the Brazilian president appeared to be discussing bribes with the owner of Brazil’s meat processing company JBS to hush up a witness in a corruption case surrounding the national energy firm Petrobras.

    Brazil’s general prosecutor Rodrigo Janot formally accused Temer of corruption and sent the charges to the lower house of Brazilian parliament, which will vote on whether the president should be tried by the supreme court.

    After Janot sent the charges to the parliament, Temer announced his decision to replace the country’s prosecutor and appointed Raquel Dodge last week.

    Police in Brazil arrested a close ally of President Michel Temer on Monday on suspicion of obstruction of justice for allegedly trying to block plea bargain deals that could further sink the country’s scandal-plagued administration.

    Geddel Vieira Lima was a minister for legislative affairs until November when he was forced to resign after another minister accused him of influence peddling. He has been a close friend of Temer’s for decades and is implicated in a series of corruption scandals.

    Federal prosecutors said in a statement that Lima tried to silence former lower house Speaker Eduardo Cunha and broker Lúcio Funaro, who worked as fundraisers for Temer’s centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement Party. Prosecutors accuse Lima of paying hush money.

    In his decision ordering Lima’s arrest, federal judge Vallisney de Souza Oliveira said he could be hiding up to $6m in alleged bribe money from Funaro.

    Lima’s attorney did not respond to calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.

    The probe focused on Lima’s time as vice president of state-run bank Caixa Econômica Federal between 2011 and 2013, when investigators believe he fraudulently channeled funds to politicians.

    Prosecutors allege that Lima ensured Cunha and Funaro received bribes and that he repeatedly called Funaro’s wife to ask whether he intended to strike a plea bargain.

    Crisis Deepens

    Temer, whose popularity is at single-digits, is already at risk of being suspended from office if the lower house authorizes a corruption investigation against him. Suspension would require a two-thirds supermajority to send the case to the supreme court, with a vote expected in late July.

    Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot accused Temer of receiving a 500,000-real (about US$ 150,000) bribe from the owner of a meatpacking company implicated in a corruption scandal.

    Janot is also investigating the president on two other counts: obstruction of justice and criminal organization. Much of the evidence has come through plea deals.

    Temer denies all wrongdoing. “I say without fear of being wrong that the accusation is fiction,” said Temer last week.

    Lima is the second ex-cabinet official from Temer’s administration to be arrested in less than a month.

    Two weeks ago former tourism minister Henrique Eduardo Alves was jailed in connection with an alleged corruption scheme involving a football stadium built for the 2014 World Cup.

    Also on Monday, the presidency’s ethics committee opened investigations into Temer’s communications and trade ministers, both of whom are accused of corruption and deny any wrongdoing.

    The committee does not have the power to remove them from office, but the probes are further embarrassments for Temer.

    Sp/AJ

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