J&F asset sales in limbo after judge halts leniency

BRASILIA: A Brazilian judge on Monday suspended criminal aspects of the leniency agreement of J&F Investimentos SA, a holding company run by the scandal-ridden Batista family, adding to uncertainty about billions of dollars of asset sales.
Federal Judge Vallisney de Souza Oliveira held up the criminal immunity of additional J&F executives until the Supreme Court makes a final ruling on Joesley Batista’s plea bargain in a corruption probe, whose benefits were revoked due to evidence he had hidden some crimes from prosecutors.
Police flew Batista to Brasilia on Monday following his surrender to authorities in Sao Paulo over the weekend after he lost immunity from prosecution.
Police also raided J&F’s headquarters and Batista’s home on orders from Supreme Court Justice Edson Fachin.
Uncertainty about J&F’s leniency agreement could threaten an estimated 14 billion reais ($4.5 billion) of recent asset sales and jeopardise the future of a company that diversified from meatpacking into fashion, energy, wood pulp and banking over the past five years.
J&F lawyers said Joesley Batista “did not lie or omit information” in his plea deals.
A lawyer for Batista did not take calls seeking comment.
JBS SA, the world’s largest meatpacker and the crown jewel of the Batistas’ empire, also signed terms last week to participate in the J&F leniency agreement. — Reuters