Brazilian meatpacking CEO Batista arrested

SAO PAULO: Wesley Batista, CEO of Brazilian meatpacking giant JBS, was arrested Wednesday on accusations that he profited from insider trading during market turbulence caused by his own involvement in a corruption probe, police said.

The arrest in Sao Paulo followed the detention on Sunday of Batista's brother Joesley, who is also a central figure in the corruption probe, which threatens to bring down President Michel Temer.

Wesley Batista is accused of improperly profiting from trades in JBS shares and US dollars between April 24 and May 17 ahead of the announcement of a plea bargain between both brothers and prosecutors in the Temer-related case.

News of that plea deal immediately sent company shares diving and the dollar into a steep rise.

Lawyers for the two Batistas said in a statement that the insider trading allegations are "unfair, absurd," Agencia Brasil reported.

The Batistas admitted to prosecutors that they had paid millions of dollars in bribes to no less than 1,900 politicians.

It was the kind of large-scale graft network similar to those uncovered in the last three years at other major Brazilian companies. But the real bombshell allegation involved Temer.

Joesley Batista had met with Temer at his Brasilia residence in March and secretly recorded the president allegedly discussing payment of hush money to keep an imprisoned former ally from testifying.

That recording and the Batistas' testimony are key weapons in efforts by chief prosecutor Rodrigo Janot to put Temer on trial. In return for their testimony, the Batista brothers appeared set to avoid prison — something which shocked Brazilians.

However, that leniency deal was revoked Sunday after it emerged that Joesley Batista had allegedly withheld information from prosecutors. — AFP