Bringing formal closure to a six-year-old set of charges, the Brazilian Securities and Exchange Commission (CVM) acquitted brothers Joesley and Wesley Batista of J&F Investments (parent company of global mega meat processor JBS S.A.) of charges accusing them of insider trading.
CVM’s board had reached a majority decision in favor of acquittal in May 2023, but one of the directors was granted the opportunity to review case files before submitting her vote. The verdict was unanimous for one of the charges, and 4-1 on the other two counts.
J&F Investments is the largest business group in Brazil, and it also controls Banco Original, Eldorado Celulose, Âmbar Energia and Flora, according to a company release. The company said in the announcement that the decision “rectifies an injustice, proves that Brazilian institutions are solid and reaffirms the integrity of the operations of J&F Group’s executives and companies in the financial market.”
The insider trading charges, which were levied against the Batista brothers in October of 2017, represented only a portion of a complicated web of bribery accusations, plea deals and corruption scandals that swirled around J&F Investments and the Batista family that year. The brothers spent six months in pretrial detention for the charges in 2017-2018.
Prosecutors accused the pair of executing stock and foreign exchange transactions between the end of March and mid-May using insider knowledge gained through a plea deal they’d brokered to end a corruption case against them.
In May 2017, Brazilian markets tanked on reports that Joesley Batista had secretly recorded Brazil’s then-President Michel Temer discussing hush money payments to another politician (those recordings were eventually leaked to the public as well). At that time, federal prosecutors believed the Batista brothers used their information to manipulate the markets during that time — raking in a profit of 100 million reais ($32 million) in foreign currency transactions ahead of the plea deal and avoiding a loss of 138 million reais by selling the company’s shares prior to the turmoil.