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Brazil's ex-president arrested on alleged corruption ties

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Brazil's ex-president arrested on alleged corruption ties

Brazil's former President Michel Temer has been arrested as part of an investigation of alleged corruption in the building of a power plant, Reuters reported.

Prosecutors said Temer had led a "criminal organization" that siphoned off 1.8 billion Brazilian reais in funds dedicated for the Angra nuclear power plant complex in Rio de Janeiro.

Temer served as president from 2016 to 2018, after the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff. During his tenure, Temer was hit by corruption allegations, though he denied any wrongdoing. He was replaced in January by Jair Bolsonaro, whose campaign focused on market-friendly reforms and promises to crack down on corruption and graft.

Temer's arrest comes as Brazil's congress heads into discussions of a bill that seek to reform the country's pension system. "This could slow down the pension reform process, which is already disappointing," political consultancy DRG partner Danilo Gennari told Reuters.

Wellington Moreira Franco, a former Temer minister, was also arrested, according to prosecutors. Moreira Franco has familial ties with Rodrigo Maia, the speaker of the congress' lower house and a major advocate of pension reform.

Numerous Brazilian politicians and businessmen have been convicted or charged as part of the so-called Operation Lava Jato, or Car Wash, corruption investigation, sparking widespread outrage that has transformed the country's political dynamics. Aside from Temer, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was also jailed on corruption ties.

As of March 20, US$1 was equivalent to 3.79 Brazilian reais.