Before Brazil Police kicked off Operation Car Wash, Wesley and Joesley Batista were JBS S.A.’s principal shareholders.

And they are again today.

JBS S.A. is a Brazilian company that is the largest meat processing enterprise in the world. It produces factory-processed beef, chicken, salmon, and pork and sells by-products from processing these meats. It is headquartered in São Paulo. It was founded in 1953 in Anápolis, Goiás. As of 2023, the company had about 500 industrial plants and commercial representations in 24 countries, and its products reach consumers in 180 countries.

JBS USA Holdings Inc. is a USA meat processing company wholly owned subsidiary of the Brazilian multinational JBS S.A. The USA subsidiary was created when JBS entered the U.S. market in 2007 by purchasing Swift & Company.

Wesley and Joesley Batista were returned to the JBS Board after a late flood of shareholder votes turned around an earlier vote against the Batistas.

That earlier vote gave the “Ban the Batista” movement brief hope.  That group demonstrated in front of the New York Stock Exchange last Friday

In Operation Car Wash,  the Batistas confessed to over 12 years of crimes and helped JBS to grow above the market after a series of acquisitions in part funded by loans from banks controlled by the state of Brazil.

The final vote that put them back on the JBS S.A. Board gave the Batistas brothers about 1.24 billion shares in their favor to 250 million in opposition with about 500,000 abstinences

J&F Investments, controlled by the Batistas, had 1.08 billion shares.

 Since 2023, the company has sought dual listings on the San Paulo and New York Stock Exchanges.

The the Batista brothers have returned to the Board of Directors for the company their father, Jose Batista Sobrinho, founded. But who are the Batista brothers?

Wesley Mendonça Batista, born Dec. 8, 1972, is a Brazilian billionaire businessman and founder of JBS S.A. Batista was the president of the JBS group and was responsible for implementing JBS operations in the United States since the acquisition of Swift in 2007.

Wesley Batista and his brother Joelsey Batista were listed in 2016 among the top 70 billionaires of Brazil.

2016: Operation Car-Wash
In July 2016, Wesley Batista became a suspect in the investigations of Operation Car Wash. The Brazilian Federal Police charged him with alleged bribes made by his company JBS S.A. to a former president of the Brazilian parliament, Eduardo Cunha, intended to help JBS free up resources.

2017: Bribery and insider trading allegations
On May 17, 2017, the Batista brothers admitted to the Brazilian Federal Police that they had bribed several Brazilian officers and politicians over the previous 12 years. As a result of these bribes, he and his company, JBS, allegedly obtained funding from the BNDES of over R$10 billion at below-market rates and then used the funds to bribe politicians. In return for their cooperation, the Brazilian Federal Police set Batista, his brother, and other directors of JBS S.A. free of charge, with a fine of R$225 million.

Batista is married, has three children, and lives in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Joesley Mendonça Batista (born 8 December 1972) is a Brazilian businessman and son of José Batista Sobrinho. He is responsible for the expansion and internationalization process of JBS S.A., the largest meat-packing company in the world and one of the main agribusiness companies in Brazil, and J&F Investments, which he shares with his wife, Flora, and five children. As of October 2021, his net worth was estimated at US$4.1 billion.

Early life
He is the son of Jose Batista Sobrinho who founded JBS S.A., the largest meat-packing company in the world and one of the main agribusiness companies in Brazil, and J&F Investimentos. José is married to Flora Mendonça Batista, and their children include Valere Batista Mendonça Ramos, Vanessa Mendonça Batista, Wesley Mendonça Batista, Joesley Mendonça Batista, and Vivianne Mendonça Batista.

Forbes magazine listed him in 2016 among the 70 main billionaires of Brazil.

Corruption and influence charges
Batista and his company are involved and pled guilty to several allegations of bribery. From September 2017 to October 2018, the Brazilian court kept Batista on remand for illegal profit on the financial market.

Operation Car Wash
In July 2016, Batista was included as a suspect in the investigations of Operation Car Wash. The Brazilian Federal Police charged him with alleged bribes made by JBS S.A. to the former president of the Brazilian parliament, Eduardo Cunha. 

Temer bribery
On May 17, 2017, the newspaper O Globo published news that Batista provided recordings made on March 7, 2017, of a dialogue between him and the Brazilian president, Michel Temer, where Batista represents that he was paying for the silence of Eduardo Cunha, who is currently in jail, and former target in the investigation. The news resulted in protests and calls for Temer’s resignation, with the Brazilian stock market also dropping.

On May 19, 2017, JBS admitted to paying bribes to the three Brazilian presidents, Michel Temer, Dilma Rousseff, and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, spanning the previous 14 years. All three presidents denied accepting bribes. However, an audio recording appears to catch Temer green-lighting the Batistas to pay a monthly allowance to former House Speaker Eduardo Cunha in exchange for his silence.

JBS told prosecutors they had paid $123 million in bribes to Brazilian politicians in recent years. Batista was also rumored to have recorded senator and former presidential candidate Aécio Neves of PSDB, one of the biggest political parties at the time, requesting two million reais in bribes. The PF filmed the payment passing to the senator’s cousin. The money was then tracked to a company’s bank account belonging to Zeze Perrella, a PSDB senator from Minas Gerais. The former head of the Securities Commission (CVM) referred to testimony that asserted JBS had bribed 1,829 politicians. Temer alleged that JBS doctored the recording of him talking to Batista about trading shares and accused Batista of insider trading. JBS denied illegal trades.

Batista and JBS allegedly obtained funding from the BNDES due to this bribe of over R$10 billion at below-market interest rates.In return for his help making the recording, the PF set Batista and his brother and other directors of JBS S.A. free, with a penalty of R$225 million. The agreement obtained by the Batista brothers applies only to their physical persons.

The Brazilian authorities are still negotiating the penalty to be applied to J&F, the holding company superior to JBS S.A. Prior negotiations suggested a penalty of close to R$11 billion, an amount that Batista refused. As of May 22, 2023, CVM was demanding $3.4 billion from JBS as part of a promised leniency deal, according to the press. In May 2017, JBS retained law firm Baker McKenzie to negotiate possible criminal charges with the U.S> Department of Justice under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Insider trading investigation
Before the release of the recordings, Batista and his brother Wesley sold several shares of JBS S.A. and bought over $41 billion. The release of the recordings resulted in a substantial reduction of the stock price of JBS S.A. shares and in the reduction of the value of the Brazilian Real. The CVM is investigating the Batista brothers for insider trading.

On Sept. 10, 2017, he was temporarily arrested at the request of the Attorney General. The Federal Supreme Court Justice accepted the request.

On Sept. 13, 2017, he had the remand ordered by the 6th Criminal Federal Court of São Paulo by the use of insider information to profit in the financial market between April and May 2017, the date of disclosure of information relating to the collaboration agreement signed between J&F executives and the Attorney General’s Office.

On March 9, 2018, Batista was released from the Federal Police’s jail in Sao Paulo, but he was not allowed to leave the country, and the Federal Police retained his passport.

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