Brazil’s President Michel Temer denies hush money claim
President Michel Temer of Brazil has denied a newspaper report that he has been recorded backing paying off a witness in a huge corruption scandal.
O Globo newspaper said Mr Temer had been recorded discussing payments to silence the jailed former Speaker Eduardo Cunha.
Opposition politicians called for snap elections and impeachment proceedings, while protesters took to the streets.
Mr Temer’s office said he had never requested payments to Mr Cunha.
Mr Cunha was jailed for 15 years in March for corruption, money laundering and tax evasion, as part of a major investigation into corruption at state oil giant Petrobras, dubbed Operation Car Wash.
He led the impeachment process against President Dilma Rousseff – who Mr Temer replaced – and was one of Brazil’s most powerful politicians before his arrest.
Almost a third of the cabinet is under investigation for alleged corruption.
What is alleged to be in the recording?
The recording is of a conversation between the president and Chairman Joesley Batista of meat giant JBS, made by Mr Batista using a hidden device, O Globo says.
When Mr Batista told Mr Temer he was paying Cunha to remain silent, the president was recorded saying, “You need to keep that up, okay?” the newspaper reported.
It did not say how it obtained the information, or what Mr Cunha was being asked to keep quiet about.
The newspaper says the recording was presented in plea bargain negotiations between prosecutors and two JBS executives.
It was part of a wider sting operation mounted by Brazilian police in conjunction with senior JBS executives to snare several politicians, O Globo says.
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Who is Mr Temer?
Mr Temer, a former law professor, played a key role in the impeachment proceedings against his predecessor, President Dilma Rousseff, last year.
As vice-president, he replaced her after she was impeached and removed from office, accused of illegally manipulating government accounts.
She denied the claims and accused both Mr Temer and Mr Cunha, both from the same political party, of being “chief and vice-chief of a coup” against her.
Mr Temer, in office until elections next year, is trying to push forward reforms aimed at ending the country’s deep recession.
President Temer’s first year
What is the wider corruption story?
Mr Cunha is the highest-profile politician to be convicted in Operation Car Wash, the vast investigation into corruption at state oil giant Petrobras.
The probe, launched in March 2014, centres on companies that were offered deals with Petrobras in exchange for bribes, which were funnelled into politicians’ pockets and political-party slush funds.
In April, a judge released a list of dozens of politicians to be investigated, including almost a third of President Michel Temer’s cabinet – among them Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes and the president’s chief of staff.
It came after 77 executives from Odebrecht, Latin America’s largest construction conglomerate, entered into plea deals, agreeing to provide information in exchange for more lenient sentences.