Ex-JBS Executive and Co-Owner Joesley Batista Arrested Again in Brazil

Joesley Batista, one of the controlling owners of JBS SA, was arrested again as part of an ongoing investigation into Brazilian corruption. This a photo from his first arrest in 2017. ( Reuters )

Brazilian police arrested Joesley Batista on Friday in connection with an ongoing investigation into illegal campaign contributions. It is the second arrest for Batista, one of the controlling shareholders for JBS SA, the world’s largest meat packer and parent company of JBS USA.

Bloomberg reports that Batista was detained amid a probe of illegal campaign financing and corruption of high-ranking members of the Brazilian Agriculture Ministry between 2014 and 2015. Batista, and his older brother Wesley, the former CEO of JBS SA, were arrested last year on insider-trading accusations. Joesley was also alleged to have concealed information during plea bargaining negotiations.

JBS SA’s board voted last in September, 2017 to name company founder José Batista Sobrinho as the chief executive officer, replacing his son Wesley.

The Batista brothers were at the center of a scandal last year after they reached an agreement to testify about a long-running scheme to bribe politicians, including President Michel Temer. Prosecutors later asked for the plea deals signed by both brothers to be revoked. The scandal nearly toppled the Brazilian government.

"Joesley Batista is a collaborator with the justice system," Batista's lawyer, Andre Callegari, said in a statement. "Therefore, the request for his arrest causes bewilderment in the context of an investigation in which he has already given more than one deposition as a cooperating witness and handed over innumerable corroborating documents."

Last month, Brazilian voters elected Jair Bolsonaro as their new president. Described as a far-right lawmaker and former army captain, Bolsonaro defeated leftist Fernando Haddad in a runoff, receiving about 55 percent of the vote.

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