Brazilian police accuse President Michel Temer of receiving bribes
Brazilian investigators have found evidence that President Michel Temer received bribes to help businesses, police said, raising a new threat that the embattled leader could be suspended from office pending a corruption trial.
Temer has been under investigation due to a plea bargain by wealthy businessman Joesley Batista, of the giant meat-packing company JBS, which linked the president and an aide to bribes and the president to an alleged endorsement of hush money for jailed legislator Eduardo Cunha.
Temer has denied any wrongdoing and insists he will not resign.
If Brazil's senior prosecutor agrees with the federal police recommendation, Congress will decide whether Temer should be investigated by the Supreme Court, the only body that can formally investigate the president.
If two-thirds of Congress voted to allow the investigation, Temer would be suspended from office pending trial.
In a report published on Tuesday by Brazil's top court, federal police investigators said they have enough evidence of bribes being paid to warrant a formal investigation of Temer for "passive corruption" - Brazil's charge for the act of taking bribes.
It said former Temer aide Rodrigo Rocha Loures directly received bribes from JBS on the president's behalf.
A previously released video made by investigators shows Loures carrying a suitcase filled with about 150,000 US dollars (£118,000) in cash allegedly being sent from JBS to the president.
Loures later gave the bag and most of the money to Brazil's federal police, authorities have said.
The federal police report noted Temer has refused to answer investigators' questions in the case.
"Before the silence of the highest authority of the nation and his former special aide, the evidence obtained from the information in this probe remains unchanged and indicates, with vigour, the crime of passive corruption," the report said.
Attorney general Rodrigo Janot said last month there were enough preliminary indications of wrongdoing for Temer to be investigated for corruption and obstruction of justice.
The president is being investigated for three alleged crimes: corruption, obstruction of justice and being member of a criminal organisation.
Temer, whose poll ratings have slumped into single digits, is in Russia on one of his few trips abroad since assuming the presidency a year ago after Dilma Rousseff was suspended upon being impeached, which led to her permanent removal from office.
Temer's push for economic austerity measures and reforms suffered a setback in Congress on Tuesday when a Senate committee rejected his proposal to loosen Brazil's labour laws.