Posts Tagged ‘JBS’

Brazil Police Raid Agricultural Minister’s Home

September 14, 2017

SAO PAULO — Brazil’s federal police conducted a raid and search operation at the house of Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi in Brasilia, related to an ongoing bribery and graft scandal, TV Globo reported on Thursday.

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It said the raid is linked to a plea deal by former Mato Grosso state governor Silval Barbosa, who accuses Maggi of participating in a corruption scheme that lasted between 2007 and 2010. Maggi is also a former governor of Mato Grosso – a major producer of soybeans, grains and cattle.

Efforts to contact Maggi’s press representatives in Brasilia were unsuccessful.

(Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by W Simon)

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Brazil’s top court to consider Temer prosecutor’s recusal

September 13, 2017

AFP

© POOL/AFP/File | Lawyers for Brazil’s President Michel Temer, who could face new criminal charges, say the country’s chief prosecutor is mounting an “obsessive persecution”

BRASÍLIA (AFP) – Brazil’s Supreme Court was scheduled Wednesday to start considering a demand by President Michel Temer for the recusal of the chief prosecutor leading a corruption case against him.

Temer’s lawyers argue that the prosecutor general, Rodrigo Janot, is mounting an “obsessive persecution” and that he is “greatly exceeding the constitutional and legal limits.”

This comes as Janot is expected to file criminal charges against Temer before he leaves his post and hands over to a new chief prosecutor on Monday. Janot is expected to charge Temer with obstruction of justice.

Congress has to approve any trial of the president and in August voted overwhelmingly to toss out a first charge, which accused Temer of taking bribes. Temer is believed to retain sufficient support to ride out a second charge.

The obstruction of justice charge would depend in part on a secret recording made by meatpacking billionaire Joesley Batista in which Temer allegedly is heard calling for payments to a jailed politician to prevent him testifying.

Batista and his brother Wesley signed plea deals with prosecutors after admitting they had run a huge bribery network to benefit their company JBS.

However the leniency accord has been torn up after Joesley Batista was accused of withholding information from prosecutors.

In another motion, Temer’s lawyers are asking the Supreme Court to block any new criminal charges by Janot until clarification of what they say are irregularities in the way the Batista plea bargain evidence was collected.

The court was due to meet at about 1700 GMT but it was not clear whether the Janot-related items would be considered quickly, with delays potentially pushing the matter to another day.

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Brazil’s Temer Seen Likely to Defeat Corruption Charges in Congress

August 2, 2017

BRASILIA — The lower house of Brazil’s Congress began debating whether President Michel Temer should stand trial on a corruption charge for allegedly taking bribes, ahead of an unprecedented vote on Wednesday that he is expected to survive.

The deeply unpopular leader is trying to shake off a scandal that has paralyzed his administration, saying he wants to focus on passing legislation needed to end a budget crisis and help pull Latin America’s largest economy from its worst recession.

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President Michel Temer  (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Opposition lawmakers chanted “Out with Temer!” on the House floor and walked in with briefcases stuffed with fake money.

Brazil’s top prosecutor Rodrigo Janot in June charged Temer with arranging to eventually receive a total of 38 million reais ($12.16 million) in bribes from the world’s largest meatpacker, JBS SA in return for political favors.

Temer and his legal team deny any wrongdoing.

The congressman responsible for recommending whether to proceed with the charge against Temer, Paulo Abi-Ackel, of the government-allied Brazilian Social Democracy Party, said the charge filed by Janot lacked proof.

He credited Temer with turning around Latin America’s largest economy, with inflation, interest rates and record unemployment falling, and incipient signs of renewed growth.

“Is this the right time to be removing the president?” Abi-Ackel said on the House floor, appealing to his peers to support Temer.

The president’s allies are confident his opponents would not muster the two-thirds of the full house vote needed to send the charge to the Supreme Court, where Temer could be put on trial.

According to Arko Advice, a Brasilia-based consulting firm, their survey of lawmakers shows Temer will win between 257 and 270 votes, enough to avoid trial, but less than the president’s supporters have said they need for a real show of strength.

TEST CASE

The lower house vote will gauge how much political capital Temer still has to block additional charges federal prosecutors are preparing to file against him and to advance a crucial overhaul of Brazil’s costly pension system.

Even some Temer opponents say it is unlikely the charge against him would advance on Wednesday.

“It is very hard to get 342 votes,” said Congressman Rubens Bueno of the Popular Socialist Party, which quit Temer’s coalition after the leader was caught up in the corruption investigation.

“What matters is how many votes he gets. If Temer does not have a comfortable majority, his government will become unstable,” Bueno told Reuters.

Temer has scrambled for support in recent days to avoid becoming the second president to be ousted in a year in a deepening crisis fueled by massive corruption investigations.

Temer’s hold on office could become precarious if new corruption charges are brought against him as expected. With the 2018 election year approaching, key lawmakers have told Reuters they would find it harder to back him again later his year.

Janot, has said he will file at least two more graft-related charges against Temer before he steps down in mid-September.

Janot is considering filing the charges of obstruction of justice and racketeering sooner if lawmakers reject the first corruption charge on Wednesday, an official with direct knowledge of the investigation told Reuters.

Janot’s team has to provide evidence linking Temer to a payment made by JBS to his right-hand man, Rodrigo Rocha Loures, who was arrested in June after a police video caught him rushing out of a Sao Paulo restaurant carrying a bag full of cash handed to him by a JBS executive.

Brazil has impeached two presidents, including Temer’s leftist predecessor Dilma Rousseff, whom he succeeded last year, in a move Rousseff called a ‘coup’ orchestrated by Temer and allies in an attempt to disrupt the corruption investigation.

But Temer would be the first to face trial for corruption if any charge against him is eventually approved.

($1 = 3.1240 reais)

(Additional reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello, Ricardo Brito and Lisandra Paraguassú; Editing by Paul Tait and Alistair Bell)

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Brazil’s Supreme Court is expected to rule on Thursday in the nation’s sweeping corruption probes

June 22, 2017

BRASILIA — Brazil’s Supreme Court is expected to rule on Thursday whether terms of plea bargains struck in the nation’s sweeping corruption probes can be revised by the full court, a move critics worry could sharply weaken the most potent weapon prosecutors wield in rooting out graft.

The court on Wednesday began debating that topic, and two of the 11 justices voted that the top court should have the right to revise the terms of plea bargains, but only after the defendants in cases in which their testimony was used have been sentenced.

As the law now stands, it is up to federal prosecutors to hammer out the details of plea bargains, such as whether a person who turns state witness must serve jail time or not, and if that agreement must be approved by a single judge.

Opening the possibility that defense lawyers could ask the badly over-burdened Supreme Court to decide on the terms of plea bargains would likely both severely slow down the speed at which such agreements are made and increase the chances that tougher terms would be forced upon potential whistleblowers, two federal prosecutors with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

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“This is a signal to those who may wish to strike an accord with prosecutors and turn over substantial amounts of proof of corruption that they may not really benefit from doing so,” one of the prosecutors said. “Without question, this will lessen the numbers of those who will come forward to talk.”

Brazil only began allowing plea-bargain agreements in 2013. They have been the key means for federal prosecutors to unravel what has become one of the world’s largest corruption schemes, in which large firms paid billions of dollars in bribes to politicians and executives of state-run companies in return for winning lucrative contracts.

More than 90 high-ranking politicians and top businessmen have been convicted so far in the “Operation Car Wash” investigation. The probe has branched out in the last three years, with President Michel Temer, four past presidents and dozens of sitting lawmakers under investigation.

Temer came under investigation after executives at the world’s largest meatpacker, JBS SA, struck a plea deal with prosecutors and turned over vast amounts of evidence that they claim proves Temer took nearly $5 million in bribes in return for helping the company resolve massive tax issues, win contracts and other political favors.

As part of that deal, the billionaire brothers who control JBS, Joesley and Wesley Batista, managed to avoid serving any jail time, though they each had to pay 225 million reais in fines.

The fact that the brothers managed to avoid imprisonment despite testifying that they had shelled out 500 million reais in bribes to nearly 1,900 politicians in recent years enraged the public and largely prompted the Supreme Court to examine the plea-bargain issue.

(Editing by Leslie Adler)