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Brazil top electoral court begins trial over illegal campaign financing

Brazil's top electoral court, the Superior Electoral Tribunal, started a trial June 6 that may unseat President Michel Temer over alleged illegal campaign financing, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Temer and former President Dilma Rousseff allegedly financed their 2014 election campaign from a corruption scheme at oil company Petrobras, an accusation they both deny, according to the report. The oil company maintains that it was a victim of the scheme.

Brazil's Supreme Court on May 18 opened an investigation into Temer on allegations that he endorsed bribery of a potential witness in the country's massive Lava Jato graft probe that was allegedly captured on an audio recording. Meanwhile, executives at meatpacking giant JBS SA said they paid out bribes in relation to loans and pension funds from Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social, parts of which were used as campaign donations to Temer and Rousseff and another former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The tribunal's decision, which could take weeks if not months, can be appealed by Temer. If the tribunal's ruling is against Temer, his main ally, the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, is likely to abandon his government, Paulo Bauer, leader of the party in the Senate, reportedly said.

Rousseff, also under investigation by the top electoral court, was impeached in 2016.