BRASILIA – Brazilian President Michel Temer announced on Saturday that he will ask the Supreme Court to suspend the investigation opened against him for the suspected crimes of corruption and obstruction of justice.
Temer insisted in a message to the nation that he will remain at the head of the government and questioned the validity of supposedly incriminating recordings taped by Joesley Batista, an owner of the global meatpacking giant JBS.
On the tapes, according to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the president can be heard apparently recommending that the JBS chairman maintain the flow of money to the former speaker of Brazil’s lower house, the imprisoned Eduardo Cunha, to buy his silence.
In the audio released to the media, Batista is heard to say that he is looking to have his company receive favors from government ministries, that he is in contact with prosecutors who are informing him about investigations and that he is bribing Cunha to keep him from entering into a plea-bargain arrangement.
The tapes have led to calls for Temer’s resignation, even from within the ruling coalition his Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) leads.
Experts contracted by local media said Saturday that the audio tapes made by tycoon Joesley Batista and which implicate Temer, were edited before being handed over to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, a fact cited by the president as proof of their nonvalidity.
“This clandestine recording was clearly manipulated and adulterated,” the president said in his second statement since the scandal exploded.
Temer insisted that he committed no crime, that “I never bought anyone’s silence,” and that he is not obstructing justice as Prosecutor Rodrigo Janot said in his plea for an investigation, which was subsequently authorized by the Supreme Court.
“We are entering a plea with the Supreme Court to suspend the investigation until the authenticity of the clandestine recording can be verified,” the head of state said.
Temer also made a personal attack against Joesley Batista, the JBS owner who taped his conversation with the president, accusing the tycoon of committing the “perfect crime” to enrich himself and escape being nailed by the law.
The president said that Batista speculated with Brazil’s currency thanks to the audio tape, since, according to rumors in the market, he bought a vast quantity of dollars on the eve of the scandal, aware of the steep depreciation the real was about to suffer.
Batista “is free in New York, while Brazil, though it has emerged from the worst economic crisis in its history, continues to go through days of uncertainty,” he said.