June 25, 2018 / 10:17 PM / 6 months ago

Brazil prosecutors charge JBS shareholder Batista with corruption

BRASILIA, June 25 (Reuters) - Brazilian federal prosecutors on Monday charged JBS SA shareholder Joesley Batista, another senior executive of the meatpacking company and a former federal prosecutor with corruption.

The charges against Batista, former executive Francisco Assis and former federal prosecutor Marcello Miller were filed before a federal court in Brasilia, prosecutors said in a statement. They would become defendants in a criminal case if the court agrees to hear the charge.

Lawyers for Batista and Assis said in a statement their clients were innocent and the charges unfounded. It was not immediately possible to locate a lawyer for Miller.

The charges, which are under seal, accuse Miller of being paid 700,000 reais ($185,415) by Batista to help him and Assis reach plea deals while Miller was still a federal prosecutor.

The testimony of Batista and other JBS executives included allegations that they bribed nearly 2,000 politicians at all levels of government in the past decade - including President Michel Temer.

Temer faced corruption charges, but they were blocked from going to trial by Brazil’s Congress late last year.

Under terms of their plea deal signed last year, Batista, who at the time headed family holding firm J&F Investimentos SA, and Assis confessed to bribery and were exempted from prosecution for their cooperation.

Brazil’s Supreme Court is weighing whether to annul the plea deal of the J&F executives, which former prosecutor general Rodrigo Janot requested they do last September. ($1 = 3.7753 Brazilian reais) (Reporting by Ricardo Brito; writing by Brad Brooks; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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