WASHINGTON- After asking the previous administration to investigate Brazilian meat producer JBS S.A., US senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) sent another letter to US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin about the company’s acquisition practices.
Rubio and Menendez, who are members of the Senate’s committee on foreign relations, expressed their uneasiness about the financing sources JBS utilizes in its acquisition deals.
“We remain deeply concerned by the company’s habitual use of criminal practices to obtain funds to acquire US companies,” the letter stated. “When foreign companies benefit from corrupt practices and spread them to US markets, they jeopardize our economic security, present direct risks to our business and undermine our efforts to fight corruption abroad.”
JBS did not respond to a request for comment.
Rubio and Menendez are asking for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to review JBS transactions.
The letter from the senators said CFIUS should investigate deals JBS made with J&F lnvestimentos, which was owned by Joesley and Wesley Batista, the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) and several Brazilian pension funds.
According to the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2017, the Batistas made payments of approximately $150 million in bribes at the direction of a former Brazil Finance Minister using in part funds from inter-company transfers, dividend payments, and other means obtained from JBS operating accounts containing funds from Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., of which JBS became the majority owner of in 2009.
On Aug. 12, JBS SA announced a proposal to acquire the remaining ownership share of Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.
The letter also referenced a fine of more than $256 million JBS paid to the Justice Department in Oct. 2020 to settle a criminal foreign bribery case.
Rubio and Menendez also want the Treasury to look at business trades with Venezuelan Corporation of Foreign Trade (CORPOVEX) and Maduro ally Diosdado Cabello.
Both senators previously stated in a letter in 2019 that since JBS moved in the US market, it has engaged in “illicit financial activities including bribing Brazilian government officials” along with business relationships with Venezuela’s government run by Nicolas Maduro.