Brazil's president denies authorizing payments to silence politician

"President Michel Temer has never requested payments to obtain the silence of former MP Eduardo Cunha", it said. Hidden in his pocket was a voice-recorder, according to Rio's daily newspaper O Globo. Temer then allegedly told Batista: "You need to keep that up, okay?"

"If the recordings are confirmed, Temer would have to defend his mandate on multiple fronts", said political analyst Thomaz Favaro of the consultancy Control Risks, citing the danger of public pressure for Temer's resignation, lawmakers' calls for impeachment and a possible investigation by the nation's top prosecutor.

Investors dumped Brazilian assets in foreign markets after the news broke late in Brazil, as the prospect of Temer becoming enmeshed in a fresh political crisis clouded the prospects for his unpopular reform agenda, considered key to ending a deep recession. Cunha is now serving a 15-year sentence for corruption and money-laundering. For decades, politicians have accepted off-the-books campaign funding and personal bribes from these companies in exchange for awarding enormous state infrastructure and procurement contracts and writing friendly legislation.

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In that case, Temer would lose the presidency, which he won after a parliamentary coup against the constitutional president, and Dilma would be politically disqualified for eight years, so the way would be paved for an indirect election in the National Congress or general elections.

The company is now entangled in one of Brazil's largest corruption scandals, and the executive in March of 2017 told prosecutors that Rousseff knew about the illicit contributions made by the conglomerate to her re-election campaign.

Temer immediately denied the report in O Globo newspaper.

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The paper reported that Batista and his brother, Chief Executive Wesley Batista, presented the recording to prosecutors as part of plea bargain negotiations, that were going on since March, adding that JBS also hired a law firm to discuss a leniency deal with the U.S. Department of Justice.

"These people, like me, when they saw that on the news, they came here spontaneously, because they can't take it any more".

Many Brazilians also read into the fact that it was O Globo, a media conglomerate whose wealthy owners were viewed as backers of the Rousseff impeachment and supporters of Mr. Temer, that broke this story - a sign that he has lost their protection, which could complicate his efforts to see out his term.

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Temer, who took office in August 2016, has rejected the accusations against him.

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