General view of a session of the Federal Supreme Court on June 20, 2017 in Brasilia. The court on Sept 12, 2017 authorized an investigation of President Michel Temer for suspected corruption involving a decree regulating ports. (EVARISTO SA / AFP)
BRASILIA - Brazil's Supreme Court Justice Luis Roberto Barroso on Tuesday authorized a new investigation into President Michel Temer for suspected corruption.
Nobody should be indifferent to the personal and political responsibility of a public authority, notably the President of the Republic
Luis Roberto Barroso, Judge, Brazil's Supreme Court
The justice ruled that there is sufficient evidence to investigate whether Temer signed a decree in May 2017 to favor a company operating in a port in exchange for bribes.
The top court also authorized an investigation into Temer's close advisor, Rodrigo Rocha Loures, and two other businessmen on suspicion of corruption and money laundering.
There are no immediate comments from the president on the ruling, but Temer has denied any wrongdoing in the cases raised against him.
The request to open such a process was made by prosecutor-general Rodrigo Janot in June to establish whether Temer acted to benefit Rodrimar, a logistics firm, which won a tender to operate at the important Brazilian port of Santos.
"Nobody should be indifferent to the personal and political responsibility of a public authority, notably the President of the Republic, such as appearing as under investigation in such a procedure," wrote Barroso in his decision.
Barroso was appointed to oversee this investigation after Janot asked it should be given a new rapporteur, not linked to previous investigations under Operation Lava Jato.
In this June 29, 2017 photo, Brazilian President Michel Temer attends a ceremony to celebrate the 1st anniversary of the Accountability Act of State Companies, at Planalto Palace in Brasilia. (EVARISTO SA / AFP)
Another Supreme Court Justice Edson Fachin opened a criminal investigation against Temer in May for corruption, but the Chamber of Deputies voted to drop the charges.
The new case also involves Rocha Loures, who was filmed accepting a briefcase filled with 500,000 reais (US$160,000), which was believed to be a bribe for Temer from meatpacking group JBS.
On Monday, as part of another investigation, the federal police said Temer had received 31 million reais (US$10 million) in "illicit advantages" as the leader of a group of senior figures within the ruling Brazilian Democratic Movement Party.