Brazil’s interim President Temer asked corrupt tycoon for political donations, report claims

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 August, 2016, 2:26pm
UPDATED : Monday, 08 August, 2016, 10:23pm

Brazil’s interim President Michel Temer asked Latin America’s biggest construction tycoon, now in jail for his role in a massive corruption scheme, for millions of dollars in political donations, a report said Saturday.

The report in Veja magazine quoted the former executive, Marcelo Odebrecht, saying that Temer asked him for “financial support” during a 2014 dinner with members of his center-right PMDB party.

Odebrecht said he donated 10 million reais (now US$3.16 million) to the party, Veja reported.

The information was quoted from a leaked portion of a plea deal that Odebrecht is negotiating with prosecutors from the huge corruption probe dubbed Operation Carwash, Veja said.

Odebrecht has been jailed since last year for his role in the scheme in which his company and others paid bribes to the state oil giant Petrobras in exchange for inflated contracts. The scheme involved top politicians and some of Brazil’s richest men.

Odebrecht and other senior executives at his company have promised to give prosecutors the details of how they made illegal donations to politicians in the massive pay-to-play scheme.

There was no evidence cited in the report that the donation allegedly given on Temer’s request was a bribe.

The report, however, was likely to stoke tensions in the capital Brasilia where Temer came to power in May after suspension of elected president Dilma Rousseff for a Senate impeachment trial.

Rousseff looks set to be removed from office within weeks, with Temer staying on as president until 2018.

Prosecutors and Temer’s office could not be reached immediately for comment on the report.

Veja quoted Temer’s office as confirming the dinner and a discussion on “financial aid from Odebrecht construction to the PMDB’s electoral campaign in complete accordance with electoral legislation.”

Temer has not been accused in the Car Wash conspiracy, although many of his allies, including several ministers, have been.

Many in Rousseff’s Workers’ Party have also been accused of involvement in the embezzlement of Petrobras, including her mentor and predecessor in the presidency Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Rousseff herself has not been accused of taking bribes.

Rousseff however is accused of spending money without congressional approval and taking out unauthorised loans from state banks to make the national budget look better than it really was as she campaigned for re-election in 2014.