SAO PAULO – Brazilian President Michel Temer took to television Friday to deny a report that he has laundered money and said he would urge his security minister to investigate how the allegations were leaked to the news media.
Brazil's top court has authorized an investigation into whether Temer accepted a bribe in exchange for a signing a decree favorable to operators at the country's largest port in Santos.
The Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reported Friday that Federal Police suspect Temer hid the alleged bribe by purchasing properties in the names of relatives, including his wife and his 9-year-old son. The paper did not name its source, and the police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a hastily arranged televised address, Temer called the accusations lies and said that his income over the past 60 years has been entirely sufficient to justify the property purchases he had made.
"Only an irresponsible person, an ill-intentioned person would dare try to incriminate my family, my son of 9 years old, as money launderers," he said to the journalists. "What world are we in? I tell you, sirs, it's incredible, it's revolting."
He also expressed dismay that the media received information he said his own defense team had been denied. He said he would "suggest" to Public Security Minister Raul Jungmann that he investigate the leaks. Jungmann's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The investigation into the ports is one of several accusations against Temer, and this is not the first time he has taken to the airwaves to declare his innocence.
Brazil's attorney general has already officially accused Temer of corruption twice, presenting charges of bribery, leading a criminal investigation and obstruction of justice. But a sitting president can only be tried if Congress' lower house accepts the charges, and Temer survived both votes in that chamber. He can still be tried after he leaves office.
He is now facing potentially a third accusation in the ports case. Recently, some friends and allies of Temer were arrested in a sign the investigation is moving forward, though investigators have repeatedly asked the courts to give them more time to look into the case.