Batista brothers to face trial on insider trading charges

by Erica Shaffer
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The Batista brothers were formally charged in September. 
 
SÃO PAULO, Brazil – A federal court in Brazil confirmed that Joesley and Wesley Batista will stand trial on charges of insider trading and manipulation of the stock market.

The brothers, who are major stakeholders in the world’s largest meat packer, JBS SA, recently were arrested and held in pre-trial detention. Both Batistas will have 10 days to respond to the indictment.

Federal prosecutors in Brazil allege that Joesley and Wesley Batista minimized financial losses by buying and selling millions of JBS shares before giving evidence as part of plea deal related to other bribery and corruption charges. Prosecutors claim the Batistas made a profit of R$100 million reais ($31,631,555), and avoided a loss of R$138.3 million reais ($43.6 million). The Batista family controls more than 40 percent of JBS.

Presiding over the 6th Federal Criminal Court, federal Judge João Batista Gonçalves said in a statement, "The information not yet disclosed to the market was, at least in principle, relevant enough to impact the national financial system…”

Insider and market manipulation, Gonçalves said, can “undermine the credibility, stability, and efficiency of the capital market and undermine people’s interest in investing their savings in companies that, with such resources, could provide economic development for the country.”

Before confirmation of a trial, JBS withdrew its registration statement for an initial public offering valued at $500 million. The move represents a setback for company’s plans to restructure assets and improve access to global capital markets.

The filing followed a string of food safety and corruption scandals that came to light over the past six months turning JBS’s journey to an initial public offering into a “one-step-forward, two-steps-back” exercise. However, the company hasn’t relinquished ambitions for a public listing of a processed food unit in the United States.

“JBS Foods International’s latest submission to the US Securities and Exchange Commission is a procedural matter; it does not preclude the company or any of its affiliates from seeking a listing in the US at a later date,” JBS SA said in a statement to MEAT+POULTRY. “The company remains of the view that a listing in the US is the right path forward to maximize value for all stakeholders.”

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