SÃO PAULO, Brazil – Police in Brazil arrested Joesley Batista, a controlling shareholder in global meatpacker JBS S.A., as part of an investigation into an illegal campaign finance scheme and bribes paid to officials in the Chamber of Deputies and Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture.
Police served 63 search and seizure warrants and 19 temporary arrest warrants. Brazil’s Federal Police agency said 310 agents were deployed to Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Mato Grosso, Paraíba and other states in Brazil. Federal agents launched the investigation in May based on statements made by Lúcio Bologna Funaro, a Brazilian economist arrested in the Operation Car Wash probe, regarding alleged bribes paid to public servants and political agents.
Brazil’s tax agency said the alleged bribes paid to public and political agents are estimated at more than 22 million reais ($5.9 million).
Joesley Batista spent roughly six months in prison until his release in March. His brother Wesley was released from prison in February. The Batistas are fighting charges of insider trading. Joesley Batista also was accused of withholding information during plea negotiations.
From 2016 through 2017, the Batista name became linked to multiple criminal investigations including “Operation Weak Flesh” which exposed bribes paid to food safety inspectors in Brazil. Since that time, it’s been alleged that Batista and other JBS S.A. executives have bribed almost 2,000 politicians at all levels of government, including president Michel Temer. Brazil’s congress blocked corruption charges against Temer late last year.
1 Brazilian real = 0.27 US dollar