On the Verge of Being Ousted, Brazil President Counts on a Slow Justice to Complete His Mandate

Brazilian President Michel Temer’s government expects a federal judge to recommend his removal for illegal campaign funding, but believes it can stall a final decision by Brazil’s top electoral court until after he leaves office next year, aides said.

If Temer can delay the process it could allow him to press ahead with fiscal reforms and austerity policies that have lifted Brazil’s currency and stocks and raised chances the country will emerge from a deep recession in 2017.

The case before the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) alleges that proceeds from corruption and political kickbacks were used to fund Temer’s 2014 election campaign when he was the vice presidential running mate to Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached last year for manipulating budget accounts.

Damaging new evidence was given recently by the jailed former CEO of Brazil’s largest engineering firm, Marcelo Odebrecht, who confirmed that his company made illegal donations to the campaign to the federal judge handling the case.

Judge Herman Benjamin is now expected to recommend in coming weeks the ticket be annulled, presidential aides said.

If the decision were confirmed by the electoral court, Temer would be removed and a successor picked by Congress to lead Brazil to elections at the end of next year.

But Temer is playing for time, counting on a possible appeals process stretching on past the next general election scheduled for October 2018, in which he has said he will not stand, a presidential aide told reporters.

“There is an ample gamut of appeal options. The president thinks this will drag out into 2019,” the aide said, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the matter.

Legal experts said the court is a conservative panel unlikely to oust a president but that could change if Brazil’s worst ever recession drags on and a widening bribery scandal paralyses Temer’s government.

Brazil’s establishment is bracing for the publication of explosive plea bargain statements by 77 Odebrecht employees expected to list dozens of politicians who took kickbacks from a company at the center of bribery investigations in a dozen Latin American countries.

O Globo newspaper reported that Brazil’s top prosecutor, Rodrigo Janot, was planning to open corruption investigations against 30 senators and congressmen next week based on the Odebrecht testimony.

The company’s former chief executive confirmed that some 150 million reais (US$ 50 million) were donated to the Rousseff-Temer campaign, including 50 million reais (US$ 16 million) in bribes to facilitate legislation that favored Odebrecht.

A source with access to Odebrecht’s statement told Reuters he testified Temer had never discussed a specific campaign contribution at a dinner in 2014, effectively sparing the president.

However, Brazilian media reported the jailed entrepreneur implicated Temer’s chief of staff, Eliseu Padilha, as the man who handled the donations.

Odebrecht’s testimony is expected to seal the fate of Padilha, who is facing other allegations of handling cash payments to fund Temer’s PMDB party, but it will prolong investigations and gain the president vital time.

“The process will continue somewhat longer because more depositions and inquiries will have to be made now,” Temer’s lawyer Gustavo Guedes said by telephone.

Guedes said it was hard to tell whether the case would reach the TSE plenary this year or next.

In May, Temer will have the chance to fill two vacancies on the seven-member electoral court and is expected to appoint jurists who will favor his case.

This article was produced by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Visit them at www.thisisplace.org

Tags:

  • Show Comments (0)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

Ads

You May Also Like

Despite Efforts, Brazil’s Corruption Ranking Gets Worse

  Brazil ranks 79th among 176 countries in a world ranking of perceived corruption ...

Brazil’s Lula Stands Up for Ministers Charged With Corruption

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defended, Thursday, August 25, the Ministers of ...

Brazil’s Prison Riot: The Unspeakable Pain of Burying Your Beheaded Child

The prison massacre in Alcaçuz Penitentiary on January 14, which killed at least 26 ...

Brazilian soldiers celebrate the 1964 military coup

In Brazil Coups Are the Rule. Elected Government Is the Exception

With a rom-pom-pom, the Brazilian Marine Corps brass band introduced the national anthem and ...

Brazil Reverts Ban and Invites US to Use Amazon’s Missile Launching Base

The government of Brazilian President Michel Temer has invited the United States to use ...

Aquarius with Sônia Braga - Cannes Festival

Little Secret Is Brazil’s Choice for the Oscar. Politics Discarded Aquarius

Film critics in Brazil say that the critically acclaimed film Aquarius with actress Sônia ...