Brasília: Brazil`s interim president Michel Temer lost the third cabinet member of his month-old administration to a swirling scandal when his tourism minister resigned Thursday after being accused of taking bribes.
Presidency sources told AFP that tourism minister Henrique Eduardo Alves had submitted his resignation after a key witness accused him of accepting 1.5 million reals (around $445,000) diverted from state oil company Petrobras.
Alves, a member of Temer`s center-right PMDB party, joins former transparency minister Fabiano Silveira and former planning minister Romero Juca, who were both forced to resign over leaked phone recordings linked to the scandal.
Temer and Alves were among some 20 politicians named in the latest batch of allegations to emerge in the explosive scandal.
Sergio Machado, the former chief executive of Petrobras subsidiary Transpetro, said in a plea deal with prosecutors that both men asked him for money from an illegal kickbacks scheme that diverted some $2 billion from the national oil giant.
Machado said Temer asked him for about $430,000 to fund an ally`s campaign for mayor of Sao Paulo, according to documents published Wednesday.
An irate Temer took to national television Thursday to deny the allegation.
Temer took over last month from suspended president Dilma Rousseff. She is facing an impeachment trial in the Senate on unrelated charges of illegally manipulating public accounts to hide the government`s budget problems.
Temer has repeatedly denied involvement in the Petrobras scheme, but the investigation remains a major threat to his administration.