By Maria Paz Salas
SANTIAGO, Chile (AA) – Brazilian President Michel Temer on Thursday dismissed the possibility of resigning amid corruption accusations.
“I will not resign”, Temer said in a televised message to the nation after the Supreme Federal Court decided to open an investigation regarding allegations made the previous day that he approved of payments to a former powerful lawmaker to keep quiet.
The O´Globo news outlet reported that Temer was recorded by Joesley Batista, who owns JBS, the world’s largest meat company, while he endorsed payments to buy the silence of the former head of the lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha.
It is believed that Cunha has evidence on a number of high-ranking politicians and business leaders in a massive nationwide “Car Wash” corruption investigation into bribes to obtain contracts at state-owned oil-giant, Petrobras.
It is possible Cunha, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence, could reach a plea deal with authorities for a lesser sentence if he turns over information.
Temer stressed he did not “buy the silence of anybody” and said he was confident he could demonstrate he had “no involvement” in the allegations.
The latest twist in a country accustomed to corruption, has had an effect on the country’s finances as stocks nosedived and the currency plunged Thursday.
Temer, who has record low approval ratings, defended his government, which he said aims to get Brazil out of its worst recession in years, through austerity measures.
“The fall of the inflation, the numbers of the return of the growth and employment improvement data, created hope for better days. The optimism returned and reforms were advancing in Congress”, he said.
Temer assumed the presidency last May, replacing Dilma Rousseff after she was impeached following allegations of manipulating budgets ahead of the country’s 2014 election.
The current allegations is not new territory for Temer, who is also accused of illegally financing his campaign during the 2014 elections. He has promised to appeal if a court tries to remove him from office.