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The Brazilian meatpacker is to sue its own controlling shareholders for the acts of corruption undertaken by brothers Wesley and Joesley Batista, as per the leniency agreement signed with the Federal Police in 2017.
The decision by JBS’ shareholders was approved on October 30 during a meeting, in which the owners did not vote. The decision was allegedly taken by Brazilian bank BNDES, following a discussion initiated three years ago, shortly after the corruption denunciations became public. At the meeting, shareholders representing about 72% of JBS's total capital were present. Of this total, almost 41% belong to the Batista holding company (prevented from voting), J&F, and 22% are from the state bank, meaning that there were just under 10% of other market investors at the meeting.
According to local reports, BNDES has been trying to hold the brothers Wesley and Joesley Batista, the heirs of the company's founder, accountable for a plunge in JBS' stock in 2017 after they confessed to bribery. During the meeting it was defined that JBS should file a civil liability lawsuit against the Batista brothers, as well as against Florisvaldo Caetano, a former tax advisor, and Francisco de Assis Silva, a former legal director of the company, seeking compensation for bad deeds based on Article 159 of the Law on Corporate Shares. Compensation is to be paid to JBS and not to shareholders. In addition, JBS is also to file a lawsuit against holding company J&F for controller abuse. The Batista brothers are the two main shareholders of J&F.
In May 2017, controlling owner Joesley Batista signed a plea bargain deal with the Federal Police under the national investigation named “Operation Car Wash” (Lava Jato); the leniency agreement amounted to almost R$11 billion (US$1.9 billion), the largest corporate fine ever seen in Brazil, even among the companies involved in Operation Car Wash. Read more here.