SÃO PAULO – The Superior Court of Justice in Brazil cleared the way for Joesley Batista to return to a managing position at J&F Investimentos, the parent company of meatpacker JBS S.A. The court extended its ruling to include Wesley Batista, former chief executive officer of JBS.

Defense attorneys asked the court to lift the ban because the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic made the brothers’ return to management positions at J&F essential.

Judge Rogerio Schietti Cruz agreed saying, “…the negative impacts that this global health crisis will have on the economy of each country and, especially, on the financial health and on the productive capacity of national and multinational companies” were arguments that reinforced the need for the Batistas to return to the company to make decisions that preserve productive activity, jobs and tax collection at J&F which supplies 25% of Brazil’s food market and currently employs 260,000 workers.

The Batistas were banned from holding management positions in companies owned by J&F after federal prosecutors charged them with insider trading. Joesley Batista also was accused of withholding information during plea negotiations. Joesley Batista spent roughly six months in prison until his release in March 2018. Wesley Batista was released from prison in February the same year.

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. The brothers also faced allegations that they and other JBS S.A. executives bribed almost 2,000 politicians at all levels of government, including Michel Temer, former Brazilian president.