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article imageBrazil meat magnate accused of bribery ordered released from jail

By AFP     Nov 13, 2018 in World

A court in Brazil ordered Monday the release of a meatpacking magnate arrested days ago as part of the wide-ranging "Operation Car Wash" investigation into corruption.

Nefi Cordeiro, a judge at the Superior Court of Justice, ruled that it was excessive to hold Joesley Batista in prison pending further investigation.

Batista and his brother Wesley own the world's biggest meatpacking company, JBS.

The judge also ordered the release of 16 other people arrested Friday along with Batista, including two former agriculture ministers. Two others also arrested then were released on Sunday.

Investigators say JBS bribed agriculture ministry officials through political intermediaries in order to obtain benefits from industry regulations and the attribution of commercial licenses.

These bribes gave JBS advantages over its competition and the possibility to build a market monopoly, police said.

Joesley Batista was previously held between September 2017 and March of this year on suspicion of having withheld information from prosecutors. This prompted authorities to scrap a plea bargain deal they had reached with him.

The "Car Wash" investigation has ensnared some of Brazil's biggest companies, such as construction conglomerate Odebrecht and state oil giant Petrobras, and some of its most notable politicians, including former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is serving a 12-year prison sentence for accepting a bribe.

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