Brazilian President Michel Temer Is Formally Charged With Corruption

Brazil President Michel Temer ‘minimally concerned’ says charges against him'groundless

In a speech on Tuesday where he was accompanied by numerous lawmakers and ministers, Temer said he was "minimally concerned" about the charges presented to the Supreme Court (STF) by prosecutor-general, Rodrigo Janot, as they were "a work of fiction".

He accused Janot of seeking "revenge, destruction and vengeance" with the indictment.

Temer, who was formally accused on Monday of accepting millions of dollars in bribes, said the charge against him will have a negative impact on Brazil's economic recovery, possibly paralyzing efforts at reform. He is expected to face additional charges in the coming weeks.

Janot's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and the president's office did not respond to a request to elaborate.

Janot's indictment was widely expected and markets mostly met them with a shrug on Tuesday.

Investigators have uncovered corruption at all levels of Brazil's political class and business elites in recent years.

Two-thirds of the lower house must vote against Temer for his trial to occur. Brazil's benchmark Bovespa index was down 0.8% and the local currency slipped 0.6% in late afternoon trading.

The indictment itself was blistering in its assessment of Temer, saying he showed a total disregard for his office and that his actions, including secret meetings not on his official calendar, showed he was trying to cover up "criminal actions".

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A source in the presidency, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that the task of securing at least one-third of the votes in the lower house would not be "the end of the world". If found guilty, Temer faces a $3 million fine and two to 12 years in prison.

It is the first time an incumbent president has been formally charged with corruption in Brazil.

Temer has denied wrongdoing and said the tapes were tampered with.

For now, some observers think Congress will not force him out.

In fact, the charges give Temer an incentive to hang on to office for as long as possible, said Mauricio Santoro, a political scientist at state University of Rio de Janeiro. As a sitting president, only the Supreme Federal Tribunal, the country's highest court, can try or jail Temer.

Temer, whose government has an approval rating in the single digits, has already resisted repeated opposition calls to resign.

Temer's latest approval ratings are just seven percent, lower even than his leftist predecessor Dilma Rousseff, whom he replaced a year ago when she was impeached and removed from office by his congressional allies for the relatively technical fault of breaking budgetary rules.

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