Did you get something big for Christmas?  Big?!!  I bet it was not as big as the gift a Brazilian Supreme Court judge gave J&F, the family investment firm that controls the world’s largest meatpacker, JBS.

Right before Christmas, a Brazilian Supreme Court justice suspended $10.3 billion or about $2.1 billion U.S. of fines imposed under a 2017 “leniency agreement” that J&F had reached with the government of Brazil.

Joesley and Wesley Batista, which control JBS through  J&F investments, admitted in a plea bargain to paying about $180 million in bribes to numerous Brazilian officials, including those providing state-backed financing and food safety regulators. 

The plea bargain included fines totaling $3.2 billion.  The court ruled the payments could be suspended because J&F has adhered to the 2017 agreement with federal prosecutors. J&F asked for the suspension, saying the prosecutors were biased and had taken “clearly persecutory actions.”

J&F Investments is the controlling shareholder in JBS. SA. It employs more than 250,000 people in 190 countries, including those in North America employed by the Greeley, CO-based JBS, USA.

Dias Toffoli is the high court judge who reduced the fine.  It’s unclear if the reduction is below the amount the Batistas have already paid.  J&F reportedly has paid 2.9 billion reals or $593 million toward the original total fine.

Some of the financing backed by Brazil helped JBS expand in the United States.  It purchased Swift and Company in a $1.5 billion all-cash deal on July 12, 2007.

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