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A Brazilian business mogul has confessed to paying huge bribes to President Michel Temer since 2010, according to new court documents.

Joesley Batista, owner of Brazil-based global meatpacking giant JBS, confessed to prosecutors as part of a plea-bargain testimony related to the scandal surrounding JBS, which is being probed for alleged bribes paid to meat inspectors and irregular loans from state development bank BNDES to its holding company, J&F Investimentos, Efe news reported.

The documents released by the Supreme Court on Friday further ratchet up pressure on Temer, who was rocked earlier this week by allegations he encouraged the payment of money to a former top lawmaker convicted earlier this year of graft.

Supreme Court Justice Edson Fachin, who is overseeing cases related to the investigation of a $2 billion bribes-for-inflated-contracts scheme centred on state oil company Petrobras, on Thursday approved an investigation into Temer based on the totality of Batista’s confession.

The most explosive evidence are audio tapes, which Batista secretly recorded during a meeting with the President in Brasilia in March.

On the tapes, the President can be heard apparently recommending that the JBS chairman maintain the flow of money to the former speaker of Brazil’s lower house, the imprisoned Eduardo Cunha, to buy his silence.

Cunha was convicted in March of offences that included receiving bribes in connection with a contract Petrobras signed in the African nation of Benin.

On the tapes, released to the media, Batista says that he is looking to have his company receive favours from government ministries, that he is in contact with prosecutors who are informing him about investigations and that he is bribing Cunha to keep him from entering into a plea-bargain arrangement.

The tapes have led to calls for Temer’s resignation.

In one document, Batista said that between 2010 and 2011 he made monthly payments of 100,000 reais ($29,500) in exchange for “favours” from the Agriculture Ministry.

Temer, has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and said he can guarantee the tapes provide no proof of guilt.

First Published | 20 May 2017 11:08 AM
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