JBS Batista Closer to Jail as Supreme Court Orders Arrest

Updated on
  • Media report Supreme Court Judge requests jail for meat tycoon
  • Lawyer says he received ’unoffical’ confirmation of order

Joesley Batista in Brasilia on Sept. 7, 2017.

Photographer: Sergio Lima/AFP/Getty Images

Joesley Batista, the Brazilian tycoon who turned JBS SA into a global meat powerhouse, is closer to being arrested for crimes he confessed to earlier this year, the latest chapter of a scandal that has tipped Brazil back into political chaos and left his family’s business empire reeling.

Supreme Court Judge Edson Fachin ordered Batista’s arrest, according to local newspapers on Sunday, a move that would suspend the immunity granted in a plea-bargain agreement signed by the businessman with Brazilian authorities in May. The move follows a request for his detention by Rodrigo Janot, the chief prosecutor.

Ricardo Saud, a top executive at J&F Investimentos SA, the holding company that controls JBS, was also targeted by Fachin’s arrest warrant, according to the reports in O Globo, O Estado de S. Paulo and O Folha de S. Paulo, which cited sources that weren’t identified. Out-of-hours calls to the Supreme Court went unanswered. The J&F press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Pierpaolo Cruz Bottini, a lawyer who represents both men, said via text message that he had received unofficial confirmation that the arrest warrants had been ordered.

Audio Recording

The country’s chief prosecutor says Batista and Saud left out information from testimony submitted to Brazilian prosecutors earlier this year, when they confessed to graft and other crimes. The omissions came to light on Sept. 5, when a new audio recording emerged of a conversation between the pair. That discussion received blanket coverage in Brazilian media and followed the sensational broadcast in May of Batista’s recorded testimony, which earned him a plea bargain while creating a political crisis.

The latest tape raised questions over the terms of that agreement, which some have criticized for treating too leniently Batista and other executives connected to the case. Some of Batista’s remarks on the new recording, including a comment that he would never go to jail, have further enraged Brazilians.

In order to prevent the agreement from being fully scrapped, J&F and its executives are said to be discussing new terms with prosecutors, including raising the fines that Batista would have to pay, according to report published on Saturday by Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.

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