The board of JBS SA voted to name company founder Jose Batista as chief executive, the world’s largest meatpacker said on Sunday, after his son Wesley was jailed by Brazil’s federal police on allegations of insider trading.
Police investigated the role played by Wesley, 47, and his younger brother Joesley in suspected insider trading ahead of a plea bargain deal with prosecutors.
The Batista family has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.
JBS said in an emailed statement that Jose Batista, 84, will be closely advised by three top JBS executives. They include Gilberto Tomazoni, who is JBS’ global head of operations; Andre Nogueira, CEO of JBS USA; and Wesley Batista Jr., the 25-year-old son of the jailed former CEO who heads JBS USA’s beef division.
Jose Batista’s appointment eases a rift between the family and Brazil’s BNDES state development bank.
BNDES Participações SA, the bank’s investment arm and holder of a 21 percent stake in JBS, had pushed in recent weeks to remove Wesley Batista as CEO, with the support of other minority shareholders. That pressure increased after Wesley Batista’s arrest on Wednesday.
The sole BNDES representative on the JBS board voted in favor of naming Jose Batista as the new CEO.
Joesley Batista, one of the brothers who owns JBS, has been in temporary detention for a week after recordings suggested he tried to take advantage of prosecutors and conceal details during negotiations that led to the plea deal. He has denied this.
The insider trading case involving JBS and the Batistas follows probes by securities markets regulator CVM on trades both had made before the mid-May announcement of a plea deal between the brothers and prosecutors.
The disclosure of their plea bargain testimony, which involved key politicians, led to the filing of three corruption charges against President Michel Temer and triggered Brazil’s biggest market sell-off in at least a decade.
Investigators suspect both brothers gained an unfair advantage in trading shares of JBS while helping the company build unusually high positions in currency futures and forwards in April and May.
By Brad Brooks, Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Marcela Ayres
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