Brazil's President Temer accused of influence peddling

Friday, November 25, 2016

A new corruption scandal has hit Brazil, as President Michel Temer is accused of pressuring one of his former ministers to help approve a real estate project benefitting another member of his cabinet.

Marcelo Calero, who stepped down last week as culture minister, told federal police that Temer asked for his help to approve construction of a 30-floor luxury apartment building on a heritage site in the Bahia state capital of Salvador.

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Calero oversaw national heritage institute Iphan, which decides whether a project can be built in an area considered historic. The institute had denied the permit for the project.

Geddel Vieira Lima, the minister in charge of relations with congress, had reportedly invested in the project. He resigned after Calero came forward with the accusation that both he and President Temer were pressuring for the building's permit.

Temer has denied the accusation, but did admit to speaking to Calero about the construction of the building.

Brazil's public prosecutor's office told Reuters that Temer could be investigated.

Calero said he recorded conversations with Temer and Lima. The former culture minister added that he reached out to Temer after being pressured by Lima, but then felt even more pressured to approve construction after talking to the president.

In order for the recordings to be analyzed by the federal police, the supreme court will have to approve an investigation into the allegations.