(Corrects headline and first paragraph to say $40 million, not
40 million reais)
By Pedro Fonseca
RIO DE JANEIRO, April 13 A former senior
executive of Brazilian engineering company Odebrecht SA
has accused President Michel Temer of presiding over
a meeting to solicit a $40 million illegal payment in 2010,
according to video testimony released on Tuesday.
Prosecutors have said Temer cannot be investigated for
offenses committed before he assumed the presidency in 2016, but
the testimony could dent his credibility as he seeks unpopular
reforms to restore confidence in Brazil's economy.
Executive Marcio Faria da Silva, the former vice president
of Odebrecht's industrial wing, said in the video testimony that
the meeting took place in Temer's legal office in Sao Paulo.
In addition to Temer, former lower house speaker Eduardo
Cunha and Congressman Henrique Eduardo Alves from Temer's PMDB
party took part, according to testimony which was among a trove
of plea bargains by Odebrecht executives made public by a
Supreme Court justice on Tuesday.
Temer's office confirmed in a statement he had met with
Faria in 2010 in the presence of Cunha, but denied that Alves
participated. It said Temer had never discussed values with
Justice Luiz Edson Fachin released the testimony this week
after announcing investigations into nearly 100 senior
politicians as part of the Operation Car War probe into
political kickbacks on contracts with state companies,
particularly oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA.
The Odebrecht executive alleged that, while Temer did not
speak about any figures, Cunha made it clear that a payment was
"Eduardo Cunha spoke. He explained that we were seeking a
contract with Petrobras. A commitment that it would be signed
would require a very important contribution to the party," Faria
Representatives for Alves and Cunha, who is in prison
pending trial on other charges, could not be immediately reached
The new allegations came at a time when Temer is trying to
slash welfare spending and incentivize private investment, moves
which have lifted Brazil's stockmarket and currency. The veteran
politician already faces a case in Brazil's top electoral court
over illegal funding of the 2014 election when he was the
running mate of former President Dilma Rousseff.
"QUICK AND SUPERFICIAL"
Temer's office said in its statement that the conversation
with Faria in 2010 was "quick and superficial" and did not touch
any discussion of Petrobras contracts or financial amounts.
"The president categorically disputes any involvement of his
name with vested interests," the statement said. "He never acted
in the name of special interests in Petrobras nor defended the
payment of incorrect values to third-parties."
The amount of the payment allegedly requested in the 2010
meeting was based on a 5 percent levy on a contract between
Odebrecht and Petrobras worth $825 million for the maintenance
of the state oil companies' assets in 9 countries.
Asked if it was clear the meeting was to request a bribe,
Faria told investigators: "It was clearly about an unfair
advantage, because it was a percentage on top of a contract."
The executive said that once the contract was won, the
payment was made in cash in Brazil and to foreign bank accounts.
The PMDB took 4 percent of the value of the contract, leaving 1
percent for the left-leaning Workers Party that controlled the
presidency at the time.
($1 = 3.1215 reais)
(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro; Writing by
Daniel Flynn; Editing by Andrew Hay)