Former Brazil congressmen denies receiving hush money

Eduardo Cunha, a former Brazilian congressman imprisoned on corruption charges on Wednesday denied allegations he ever received hush money.

Published: 15th June 2017 03:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th June 2017 03:59 AM   |  A+A-

In this May 19, 2016 file photo, Brazil's former Lower House President Eduardo Cunha looks on as he testifies before the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry in connection with the Car Wash Corruption probe, at Congress in Brasilia, Brazil. | AP

By Associated Press

SAO PAULO: A former Brazilian congressman imprisoned on corruption charges on Wednesday denied allegations he ever received hush money.

Eduardo Cunha was once speaker of the country's lower house and is now serving a 15-year sentence. He told Federal Police on Wednesday that he never received money to keep silent about the kickback-corruption scandal at state-owned oil company Petrobras. The scandal has ensnared dozens of high-level politicians and executives.

The O Globo newspaper last month reported the existence of a tape recording in which President Michel Temer appears to condone the payment of bribes to Cunha.

Prosecutors have said that in the recording Temer is heard authorizing a meatpacking company executive named Joesley Batista to pay Cunha the equivalent of about $150,000 a week to prevent him from reaching a plea bargain deal.

Temer said the incriminating audio recording was "manipulated and doctored with (bad) intentions."

Cunha led the impeachment proceedings against former President Dilma Rousseff on charges of manipulating the fiscal budget. Her ouster put Temer into office.

"His silence was never up for sale," Cunha's attorney Rodrigo Sanchez Rios told reporters. "Neither President Temer or any of his representatives approached him to buy his silence."

Call to Rios' office for more details went unreturned.

The recordings increased the calls for the resignation of Temer whose administration is beset in several corruption scandals.

The attorney general is considering pressing charges against him for allegedly receiving bribes, over the audio recording and for allegedly trying to obstruct a colossal investigation into billions of dollars in inflated contracts and kickbacks to politicians.

Last week, he received a boost from a decision by the country's top electoral court to reject allegations of illegal campaign finance and keep him in office.

Temer has denied wrongdoing and vowed to stay in office.

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