Brazilian minister resigns over corruption scandal involving President Michel Temer

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Mr Lima (L) was one of the main figures in Mr Temer's (R) cabinet (Reuters Photo)
Mr Lima (L) was one of the main figures in Mr Temer’s (R) cabinet (Reuters Photo)

(BBC) A prominent Brazilian minister accused of corruption has resigned, over a scandal which also involves President Michel Temer.

Geddel Vieira Lima, who was in charge of relations with Congress, was accused by a former minister of pressuring him to approve a property investment.

Mr Temer was also accused of trying to help Mr Lima. The president denies the allegations.

The crisis could be a blow to Mr Temer, who has vowed to fight corruption.

A spokeswoman for Brazil’s public prosecutor told Reuters news agency an investigation into Mr Temer may be launched.

Mr Lima is the fourth minister to leave the government under corruption allegations.

Former Culture Minister Marcelo Calero accused Mr Lima of pressuring him to allow the construction of luxury apartments in a historic district of Salvador, in the north-eastern state of Bahia.

The ministry vetoed the project on the grounds that the proposed building was on a heritage site.

Mr Calero, left, resigned before making the allegations against his government colleagues
Mr Calero, left, resigned before making the allegations against his government colleagues

Mr Calero, who resigned last week, told the police both the president and the minister had pressured him to overturn the decision

Should he stay or should he go: By Daniel Gallas, South America Business Correspondent

Mr Temer had the chance to sack Mr Lima when the scandal broke over the weekend.

But instead he decided to keep him, as Mr Lima was seen as a key person to get the government’s economic reforms approved in Congress.

It was only on Thursday night, when Mr Temer himself was accused of meddling in favour of Mr Lima, that the government decided it could not keep his minister, who dutifully resigned on Friday.

The government will hope this will ease tensions caused by this scandal; but critics and opposition now say Mr Temer has a lot to answer about his own actions in this affair.

Mr Lima bought a property there, where each apartment reportedly costs 2.6m reais ($760,000; £611,000).

Mr Temer admitted talking to Mr Calero about the issue.

Earlier this week, an ethics panel decided to open an investigation into Mr Lima over the allegations, before the president’s alleged involvement came to light.

Mr Temer came to power earlier this year, after former President Dilma Rousseff was impeached. She was accused of manipulating the budget, but maintained her innocence and said that her political opponents had carried out a “parliamentary coup”.

Mr Temer has since tried to maintain a stable government, but has been plagued with corruption allegations against his own PMDB party.

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