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Brazil’s Temer led graft scheme, billionaire tells Época magazine

SAO PAULO Brazilian President Michel
Temer led a corruption scheme in which lawmakers squeezed
high-profile executives for bribes, billionaire Joesley Batista
told magazine Época in an interview published on
Saturday.

In his first interview since striking a leniency agreement with
Brazilian prosecutors, Batista told Época that Temer asked for
money several times since 2010. Batista told the magazine that
Temer led a group of senior politicians regularly demanding
kickbacks in exchange for political favors.

Former speakers Eduardo Cunha and Henrique Eduardo Alves, as
well as Temer’s current chief of staff Eliseu Padilha and
Cabinet Minister Wellington Moreira Franco, participated in
Temer’s scheme, Batista said in the interview.

“Temer is the leader of a lower house criminal organization,”
Época quoted Batista as saying. “Those who are not under arrest
are in the government. They’re very dangerous.”

Temer’s media office declined to comment. Press representatives
for Batista and his family’s investment holding company,
J&F Investimentos SA, were not immediately available for
comment.

Efforts to reach the lawyers of Cunha, Alves, Moreira Franco
and Padilha were unsuccessful.

The comments took Batista’s accusations against Temer a bit
further since the billionaire entrepreneur told prosecutors
that Temer worked to obstruct an ongoing corruption
investigation as president.

Last week, Temer escaped the threat of ouster after Brazil’s
top electoral court dismissed a case over alleged illegal
campaign funding for the 2014 election – in which he ran on the
same ticket of former President Dilma Rousseff.

Rousseff was impeached last year on accusation she oversaw the
doctoring of budget accounts.

J&F agreed to pay a record-setting 10.3 billion-real ($3.1
billion) leniency fine, after Joesley Batista and his brother
Wesley admitted to bribing almost 1,900 politicians in recent
years. J&F-controlled JBS SA, the world’s No. 1 meatpacker,
is being investigated for alleged insider trading ahead of the
announcement of the Batista family’s leniency deal.

Batista denied having ordered insider trades at JBS, according
to the Época interview, adding that he believed they were all
made in line with the law.

He said J&F will sell “as many assets as necessary” to
quash concerns about the group’s solvency. J&F diversified
from meatpacking in recent years, expanding into fashion, home
cleaning, banking and pulpmaking with the help of state loans,
prosecutors said.

(Writing by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal
and Leslie Adler)


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