Former JBS execs arrested after audio recording

Prosecutor alleges businessman omitted information.

Joesley Batista, former JBS SA executive who has been at the center of several Brazilian scandals this year, turned himself in Sunday and was taken into custody after the Supreme Court issued a warrant, Bloomberg reports.

J&F Investimentos SA, the holding company for JBS, confirmed to Bloomberg that J&F executive Ricardo Saud also turned himself in. A plea-bargain agreement had been signed by the businessmen in May, but federal judge Edson Fachin issued arrest warrants and the temporary suspension of the immunity granted in the former agreements.

It was also reported by the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo that federal police were carrying out search and seizure warrants on Monday in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo at addresses linked to Batista, JBS and former prosecutor Marcello Miller. Police confirmed via text message that an operation tied to the J&F executives’ plea deal was in progress, without giving further details.

According to Bloomberg, the court decision to arrest Batista followed a request by Rodrigo Janot, the country’s chief prosecutor, who claimed Batista and Saud omitted information from testimony submitted to prosecutors. The judge said the two executives would see advantages to concealing evidence if they were allowed to remain at liberty.

The alleged omissions came to light on Sept. 5, when an audio recording emerged of a conversation between the pair, receiving blanket coverage in the Brazilian media, Bloomberg said.

J&F issued a statement saying the men did not lie or omit information from their plea-bargain and added that they’re willing to cooperate with prosecutors. Bloomberg noted Batista and Saud both said last week in a separate statement that the contents of the tape were not true and offered apologies for their comments.

In a separate statement, a lawyer for the two men told Bloomberg that Janot’s decision to request their arrest despite their cooperation undermined the credibility of plea-bargain deals, in general.

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