Brazil’s political crisis deepens as president, senator investigated over kickback allegations – World

Brazilian federal police were searching the office and homes of a top presidential contender Thursday.

The searches of Sen. Aecio Neves’s home in Rio de Janeiro and his Brasilia office are fallout from a widespread corruption investigation that has also reached President Michel Temer.

Neves nearly won the presidency in 2014 and had planned to run in 2018. He is being investigated in several corruption cases related to the “car wash” probe into kickbacks to politicians. He has denied wrongdoing.

Late Wednesday, Globo newspaper reported that Neves was recorded asking JBS meat-packing company executive Joesley Batista for $700,000 to pay for his “car wash” defence.

Globo also reported that Temer was recorded by Batista endorsing the bribing of a former lawmaker to keep him quiet. Temer denies the allegation.

Temer late Wednesday denied a report that he endorsed the idea of bribing a now jailed former congressman to keep him quiet.

Brazil corruption probe

A Brazil Federal Police officer controls the traffic after searching one of the properties of Senator Aecio Neves, a key ally of Brazilian President Michel Temer, in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty)

The allegation made in a Globo News report represents a potentially significant blow for Temer, whose administration has lurched from one crisis to another since he took office just over a year ago.

In a statement to The Associated Press, the president’s office said Temer never solicited payments to keep former Speaker of the House Eduardo Cunha silent.

Cunha led the impeachment fight that removed Dilma Rousseff from the presidency last year and put Temer, then the vice-president, into power. Cunha was later imprisoned on a 15-year sentence for corruption.

The Globo report said Temer was recorded in March endorsing the payment of a bribe to Cunha. Globo did not release the recording.