JBS Owners May Reopen Leniency Deal, Confess to Insider Trading

General view of the main entrance of Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA in the city of Jundiai, Brazil June 1, 2017. ( REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker )

Brazil’s J&F Investimentos, controlling shareholder of the world’s largest meatpacker JBS SA , is renegotiating the leniency agreement reached last year over its role in corruption scandals and is considering agreeing to a confession of insider trading by jailed former owners Joesley and Wesley Batista, a source from the prosecutor’s office said on Monday.

In negotiations with prosecutors, J&F Investimentos is seeking to reach an accord to avoid the leniency deal’s falling apart, which would expose the company to corruption investigations.

The Batista brothers were charged in October with insider trading and manipulating financial markets and continue to be held in detention.

The charges put in jeopardy plea deals signed by the brothers earlier last year, after they avoided prison by implicating President Michel Temer and his allies in receiving bribes, unleashing a deep political crisis in the country.

Contacted by Reuters on Monday, Wesley and Joesley Batista’s lawyers said the two former executives were innocent and would never confess to crimes they did not commit.

A spokesperson for the federal prosecutors office declined to comment.

The leniency agreement, reached in May 2017 between J&F and prosecutors, included payment of a record 10.3 billion real ($3.21 billion) fine over 25 years for corrupt acts committed by companies controlled by J&F, without specifying the companies.

Representatives for J&F and prosecutors have held informal talks to discuss the terms of a possible renegotiation of the plea deal, the source said on Monday. The company would have to pay additional amounts to the 10.3 billion reais leniency fine agreed in May, the source added, as well as other changes, but would avoid the deal’s destruction. ($1 = 3.2080 reais)