Temer denies involvement in graft case

Brasilia, June 17 (IANS) Brazilian interim President Michel Temer has denied involvement in a corruption case that forced a third minister to step down.

Temer on Thursday mounted a spirited defence against allegations by Sergio Machado, former president of Transpetro, a subsidiary of state-owned oil company Petrobras, who admitted to channeling money to the interim president to fund a political campaign, Xinhua news agency reported.

Temer dismissed the accusations as irresponsible and baseless, saying he would not let these accusations pass.

Machado said Temer had taken money from the Petrobras corruption ring to finance Gabriel Chalta, a candidate of Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) in Sao Paulo’s mayoral election in 2012, according to a statement published by the Supreme Court.

Machado was arrested for links with the Petrobras corruption case. His confession forced Tourism Minister Henrique Alves to step down on Thursday.

According to Machado, Alves took bribes worth $447,000 between 2008 and 2014 as campaign donations. Alves has denied the accusation, saying his campaign donations were all legal.

Alves, one of the most experienced leaders of PMDB, was the third minister to resign from Temer’s cabinet following Planning Minister Romero Juca and Transparency Minister Fabiano Silveira.

After taking over from suspended President Dilma Rousseff on May 12, Temer’s new cabinet has been pummeled by a spate of scandals and missteps.

Earlier, Temer said any member of his cabinet named in a corruption investigation would have to step down.

Arrested in April, Machado has turned into a state witness apparently with the hope of reducing his prison terms. So far, he has named at least 18 politicians as being involved in the Petrobras corruption ring.

–IANS

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