JBS’s Batista brothers enter plea bargain amid Brazil corruption probe

JBS, the world’s largest meatpacker, confirmed that the brothers who control it have entered a plea bargain as the company finds itself at the centre of a corruption scandal.

Wesley and Joesley Batista are among JBS’s executives who signed a plea bargain deal with Brazilian authorities in exchange for reduced sentences, in a furore that that has sunk Brazil into political and financial uncertainty, threatening to dislodge President Michel Temer.

On Thursday evening, in a brief statement, the company announced…

… to its shareholders and the market in general that seven executives of the Company and its controlling entity, J&F Investimentos, entered into a plea bargain agreement with the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, which was ratified by the Supreme Court.

The agreement establishes the payment of a fine totaling R$225 million by these executives, as well as their cooperation with the Public Prosecutor’s Office regarding all matters disclosed to the authorities, amongst other obligations.

On Thursday afternoon, a defiant president resisted calls to resign, triggered by revelations by O Globo newspaper, which alleged the JBS brothers told Mr Temer the company was secretly bribing former lower house of congress head, Eduardo Cunha, who has been jailed for corruption, to remain silent.

O Globo reported on Thursday that the meatpacking group bought “large quantities” of dollars before the news about the investigation of the president was published.

Last week, it was revealed that Brazilian authorities are investigating loans received by the company from development bank BNDES.

And in March, Brazil’s police accused JBS and some of its peers of paying inspectors to look the other way on meat safety procedures. The company has denied any wrongdoing. But the scandal caused several countries to halt imports of Brazilian meat, the country’s third-biggest export industry, for a few days.