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Latin America / Industry News & Trends
on February 28, 2018

Prosecutors decide to end plea deal for former JBS leaders

Joesley Bastista and Wesley Batista had reached plea agreements after admitting to bribing Brazilian politicians

Federal prosecutors in Brazil have decided to terminate a plea agreement reached with former JBS CEO Wesley Batista.

The decision to nullify the plea agreement was reached on Februrary 26, reported The Financial Times.

Batista, and his brother, Joesely Batista, the former chairman of JBS, had admitted to a corruption scandal in which they bribed Brazilian politicians. A plea deal had been reached involving both of the brothers.

However, the Batista brothers were later arrested in September on suspicion of insider trading. Prosecutors have alleged that the brothers knowingly sold JBS shares, a decision made using information gained during the plea bargaining process in hopes of avoiding financial losses. In doing so, the former CEO allegedly made BRL100 million (US$30.8 million).

Wesley was released from custody on February 21 with the stipulations that he  cannot leave Brazil. The court has also ruled that he cannot be involved in the running of JBS or other companies operated by the Batista family.

Joesley remains incarcerated. While a Brazilian court called for his release in relation to the insider trading charges, he will be required to remain in jail under a separate order in which he has been accused of concealing information during the plea bargaining process.

Prosecutors said Joesley’s plea deal had already been terminated.

Wesley’s tenure as CEO of JBS ended around the time of his September arrest. He has been succeeded by his father, the founder and namesake of JBS,  José Batista Sobrinho.

Joseley stepped down as chairman of the Brazil-based meat and poultry company in May 2017 in connection with the bribery scandal. He was succeeded by Tarek Farahat. Farahat served in that capacity until October 2017, when the JBS board named Jeremiah O’Callaghan as its new chairman.

O’Callaghan had spent the previous 10 years as the investor relations officer of JBS.

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