Monday, August 16, 2021

Senators want probe into JBS American purchases

For the second time in two years, two United States senators are asking the Treasury Department to review all of the U.S. acquisitions by JBS S.A. in light of bribery charges concerning the owners of the Brazilian meatpacking conglomerate.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Senators Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, and Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said the company’s “habitual use of criminal practices” to generate cash to buy U.S. companies should be probed.

The letter cites a $280-million fine JBS paid the U.S. Justice Department last October to settle foreign bribery charges. 

It mentions a 2017 admission by Joesley and Wesley Batista — executives of J&F Holding, the parent firm of meat processor JBS S.A. — that they spent more than $150 million in bribes to a Brazilian bank to generate funds to buy U.S. companies as part of the company’s expansion plans.

Menendez and Rubio made a similar request in 2019.

The latest review request arrives in the same week JBS announced plans to buy the remaining shares of Pilgrim’s Pride it doesn’t already own after buying 80.21 per cent of Pilgrim’s shares since 2009.

The letter from Menendez and Rubio also wants the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to conduct a review of the JBS purchase of XL Packers of Brooks, Alta., Canada’s second-largest beef-packing plant.

It was in dire straits after some of its beef was discovered to be contaminated with E. coli 0157 food-poisoning bacteria.

JBS is now the largest meat-packer in the world and it recently told a meeting of financial analysts that it is shopping to buy more.