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18 May, 2017 19:23

Brazilian president Temer refuses to resign amid corruption probe

President Michel Temer of Brazil has refused to resign, after the country’s Supreme Court authorized a criminal investigation into allegations he paid hush money to the former speaker of the house and arranged bribes.

Temer made the announcement at a press conference in Brasilia on Thursday, refuting rumors that he had already informed Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Rodrigo Maia of his plans to leave office.

“Let me be emphatic about this: I will not resign!” Temer said.

“I have nothing to hide,” the president added, insisting that he has always been honorable.

On Wednesday, Brazilian prosecutors said they had received recordings showing the president and his aides and allies engaging in bribery and corruption schemes involving the country’s biggest meatpacking company, JBS.  The company’s owners, brothers Joesley and Wesley Batista, handed over the tapes to prosecutors as part of their plea bargain, according to O Globo.

Temer reportedly talked with Joesley about cash payments to the former Speaker Eduardo Cunha, who is in jail for his role in the Petrobras corruption scandal. Cunha was instrumental in the 2016 ouster of President Dilma Roussef, paving the way for Temer to take office.

In addition to Temer, the tapes reportedly implicate former presidential candidate Senator Aecio Neves and the former finance minister Guido Mantega. Neves has already been removed from his post, and his sister has been arrested, according to O Globo.

The daily reported on Thursday that Temer would tender his resignation at a press conference, and that he had already informed who is expected to appoint a replacement until the presidential election in 2018.

In 2016, Temer and his associates ousted the elected president Dilma Roussef, accusing her of manipulating statistics to conceal the country’s economic woes. Roussef was suspended in May and impeached by the Brazilian Senate in August.

"Today's legal farce removes me from the position I was elected to by the people," Rousseff said on her personal blog after the impeachment. "The will of 61 senators has replaced that of 54,5 million people who voted for me."