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  • A customer buys meat at a supermarket in Rio de Janeiro

    A customer buys meat at a supermarket in Rio de Janeiro | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 May 2019

Accused of bribing high-ranking officials, Joesley and Wesley Batista's meat-industry company has received the bailout at the expense of U.S. farmers.

The United States Donald Trump administration has granted roughly US$62 million in financial assistance to a meatpacking company owned by corrupt Brazilian brothers, a new report states.

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The financial aid, dolled out by the Department of Agriculture, was given to JBS USA, a Colorado-based subsidiary of a Brazilian meatpacking company owned by Joesley and Wesley Batista, both guilty of bribing hundreds of Brazilian officials. The money came from a US$12 billion program that the Trump administration created to help farmers who suffered due to Trump-incited trade wars.

According to purchase reports, in February the U.S. Agriculture Department issued $14.5 million in bailout cash for pig meat products from JBS. Earlier in May, another $25.6 million was issued to the company, totaling more than US$62.4 million, according to the purchase reports and NY Daily News.

Both brothers who head the company were arrested on accusations of insider trading in 2017. Brazilian police arrested Joesley Batista again a year later as part of an ongoing investigation into illegal campaign contributions in his country.

Joesley and Wesley were accused of bribing high-level officials in Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture—the bribery scheme allegedly reached the ranks of former President Michel Temer.

Reuters reported in December that U.S. authorities had been investigating the companies controlled by J&F, the holding company that controls meatpacker JBS SA, alongside their Brazilian counterparts since their largest shareholders—the two Batista siblings—admitted to bribing politicians to obtain benefits for their businesses.

A source familiar with the probe in Brasilia told Reuters that U.S. Justice Department investigators met and questioned both the Batista brothers, who are forbidden from leaving the country.


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