Brazil tape may have 'repercussions' for Batista

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Former JBS chairman Joesley Batista resigned in May amid a corruption probe
Former JBS chairman Joesley Batista resigned in May amid a corruption probe

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Prosecutors have claimed a taped conversation between billionaire tycoon and former chairman of JBS Joesley Batista and another witness threatens the terms of a leniency deal that plunged Brazil’s President into chaos.

A four-hour audio recording of Joesley Batista talking to Ricardo Saud, former director of institutional relations at JBS, allegedly captured the two men discussing crimes not disclosed in a plea bargain, Brazilian attorney general Rodrigo Janot has claimed.

The recording may have “repercussions​” for the leniency deal​ signed by seven executives from Brazilian meatpacker JBS and its holding company J&F Investimentos in May, Janot has claimed.

As part of that plea bargain, a vast amount of material, including several taped conversations, was submitted to the office of Brazil’s attorney general.

Economic hardship

One is a tape of Brazil’s embattled President​, Michel Temer, allegedly condoning the payment of a hush fee to another politician. Temer now faces a Supreme Court investigation. Brazil is in political and economic turmoil.

It had seemed that this was the only bombshell recording, but a new one has now put the immunity of several plea bargain witnesses under threat.

Janot claimed this week that the recording, made on 17 March 2017, suggested Batista had not been forthcoming about all the crimes revealed in the original plea bargain.

‘A crime’

Failure to disclose all of the information could “constitute a crime and an act of administrative impropriety​”, according to the attorney general’s office.

Janot said evidence obtained from the plea bargain testimony would stand, but warned witnesses could lose their immunity after the new recording was analysed by legal officials.

In response to this, J&F Investimentos claimed the audio clip had been hastily interpreted and that the true nature of the audio recording would be “quickly clarified”, as soon as the evidence was properly examined.

It said the interpretation contained “considerations of hypotheses” and not a single word in the recording would compromise the business.

It is true that, throughout the decision process that led to the collaboration agreement, several professionals were heard – but at no time was there any type of contamination that could compromise the good faith of the employees,​” the company said in a statement.

In May, J&F Investimentos agreed to pay a leniency fin​e of R$10.3bn ($3.1bn).

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