Brazilian media reported that, on 1 July, federal officers searched the São Paulo home of Joesley Batista, CEO of J&F Investimentos, the parent company of JBS. The meat company sells a wide range of brands, such as Friboi, Seara, Swift, La Herancia, Matturatta, Pilgrim’s, Frango Sul, Primo and Moy Park. J&F, however, has wider interests, also controlling Alpargatas (apparel and shoes), Vigor (milk by-products), Banco Original (a retail bank), Canal Rural (television) and Eldorado Brasil (cellulose).
While Joesley Batista is the younger brother of Wesley Batista, chairman of JBS, police sources have said that they are investigating allegations that Joesley alone might have paid kickbacks to politicians in 2012 in exchange for financial help for Eldorado Brasil, of which he is chairman. No formal charges have yet been laid.
Also searched, according to Brazilian media, were the São Paolo offices of Eldorado Brasil, which are located in the same building as JBS’ headquarters. Police officers spent six hours on the premises, say media reports.
No JBS arrests
In a statement to GlobalMeatNews, JBS said: “The operation led by Federal Police on 1 July occurred at Eldorado Brasil, not JBS. JBS is not being investigated.”
The meat packer said it was not worried about the impact Operation Sepsis on its reputation, had received no visits from the police to its offices and no JBS executives had been placed under arrest. A spokesperson for the Brazilian police would not confirm the raid to GlobalMeatNews, saying the force is not allowed to share “information such as companies’ names and people” involved in such investigations.
JBS had an annual income of $50bn in 2015. The state-owned Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) owns 24% of the company, which operates in Brazil, Argentina, Australia and the USA. It sells and exports beef, pig, poultry and sheepmeat to 150 countries.
Operation Sepsis was launched at the request of the Federal Supreme Court, based in the capital Brasilia. According to Brazilian media, 19 search warrants were issued in the cities of Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and São Paulo. The Lava Jato probe began in 2014 to crack down on misuse of public money, money laundering and tax evasion across Brazil.