The Brazilian Supreme Court on Thursday opened a formal investigation into alleged bribes offered by President Michel Temer to a former Chamber of Deputies Speaker indicted for corruption. The probe comes one day after leaked testimony by witnesses pointed to possible efforts by Temer to offer hush money to former Chamber Speaker Eduardo Cunha. In a statement Wednesday night, Temer denied the charges, which stem from testimony given by executives at meatpacker JBS. Temer has served as President for only a little over a year. In 2016, he replaced then President Dilma Rousseff, who was removed from office by Congress in a budget manipulation scandal. News reports described the political climate in Brasília on Thursday as “highly charged.” Two members of Congress presented impeachment motions against Temer. Others called for the chief executive to resign. Most prominent among the latter was former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2002), who said Temer should relinquish power “because we are all anxious to get this scandal behind us.” In financial markets, investors were in panic mode. The Brazilian Real surrendered more than 7% of its value to trade at R$3.37 as of mid-afternoon. The benchmark Ibovespa stocks index dropped more than 10% in early trading, triggering a circuit-breaker for the first time since the global financial crisis in 2008. Trading resumed later Thursday with the index down 9.5% at 61,111 points as of mid-afternoon.
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