March 29, 2019 / 5:38 PM / 25 days ago

Brazil ex-President Temer hit with new corruption charges - prosecutor

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian former President Michel Temer was hit with more graft charges on Friday, just a day after being charged in a separate corruption case, according to federal prosecutors.

Brazil's former President Michel Temer arrives at his home in Sao Paulo, Brazil March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

Temer, who left the presidency at the end of 2018, was arrested last week as part of an investigation into kickbacks on a nuclear plant’s construction contract involving the Brazilian subsidiary of Swedish consulting firm AF Poyry, along with engineering firms Engevix and Argeplan.

Temer has since been released and denies wrongdoing. AF Poyry has said it would not comment on an ongoing investigation. Engevix and Argeplan did not reply to requests for comment.

Federal prosecutors charged Temer and his former energy minister Wellington Moreira Franco of taking part in a bribery scheme related to the Angra nuclear power plant complex on the Rio de Janeiro coast and other state firms. Moreira Franco has also said he is innocent.

Last week, prosecutors said the graft at Angra was one aspect of a “criminal organisation” that Temer had run during his four decades in public life, which received or arranged upward of 1.8 billion reais (£354.62 million) in bribes.

Temer, 78, served for two years as Sao Paulo state’s prosecutor general starting in 1983. In 1985 he was elected to Congress, where he served until becoming former president Dilma Rousseff’s vice president in 2011. He took over as president after Rousseff was impeached in 2016.

Temer’s Brazil Democratic Movement party long held sway over key appointments in Brazil’s largely state-run energy sector, including nuclear power plants.

Work on Angra 3, the third nuclear power plant planned in the Angra complex, has advanced haltingly since 1984 and has long been on the radar of graft investigators. The complex is run by Eletronuclear, a unit of state power holding company Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA, known as Eletrobras.

Temer is the second former president to be arrested in Brazil’s unprecedented anti-corruption push since 2014. Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is in jail serving over 12 years for a corruption conviction.

On Thursday, Temer was charged with corruption on allegations of using a middleman to procure a suitcase full of cash from controlling shareholders of the world’s largest meatpacker, JBS SA.

In 2017, security cameras captured video of a former Temer adviser, Rodrigo da Rocha Loures, running out of a Sao Paulo restaurant carrying a bag with 500,000 reais in cash.

Plea-bargain testimony by two executives of JBS holding company J&F Investimentos SA implicated Temer and others in a bribery scheme and led prosecutors to accuse Rocha Loures of being a middleman for Temer, which the former president denied. Rocha Loures, who also denied the charges, is awaiting trial.

Reporting by Brad Brooks; Editing by David Gregorio and Leslie Adler

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