JBS executives agree to plea bargain with prosecutors

by Joel Crews
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The company reported that seven executives agreed to pay a fine and cooperate with the federal investigation. 
 
SÃO PAULO, Brazil – After months of swirling controversy involving executives of meat-processing giant JBS SA, the company issued  a statement on May 18 that seven executives of the company, which includes its majority stakeholder, J&F Investimentos, agreed to a plea bargain with federal prosecutors, including paying a fine of R$225 (US$67.93 million). The statement, issued to “shareholders and the market in general,” did not specify which executives were included in the plea agreement, which was made with the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office and was ratified by the Supreme Court.

The brief statement also did not spell out the specific legal matter the plea bargain addressed, as the company has been ensnared in allegations in recent months ranging from allegations of bribes paid to meat inspectors at some of the company’s plants to questions surrounding the legality of loans allegedly made to JBS by the National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES) through its subsidiary BNDESPAR. This past March, the company suspended production at 10 of its plants in Brazil in the midst of an anticorruption investigation by Brazil’s Federal Police. JBS was also one of the companies whose offices were raided by police as part of the food fraud investigation.

Joesley Batista, JBS SA
Joesley Batista, chairman, JBS SA

However, published media reports state that Joesley Batista, chairman of JBS SA, allegedly made secret recordings of Brazil President Michel Temer arranging a bribe.

Besides paying the fine, executives pledged “their cooperation with the Public Prosecutor’s Office regarding all matters disclosed to the authorities, amongst other obligations, according to the statement. “The company will maintain the market duly informed of any developments related to this matter.”

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