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Ex-BNDES chairman, 6 others charged for corruption in 'Operação Bullish' probe

The Brazilian federal police filed charges against former Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social Chairman Luciano Coutinho, J&F Investimentos SA CEO Joesley Batista, two former finance ministers and three other people for alleged corruption at the development bank, Folha de S.Paulo reported.

According to the charge sheet, filed as part of the "Operação Bullish" probe, bribes were paid to former Finance Ministers Guido Mantega and Antonio Palocci to enable the purchase of shares and the release of financing by BNDES to companies under J&F, which controls controversial meat processing company JBS SA.

The finances were supposedly meant to provide capital to the group for its internationalization project. Batista had reportedly admitted to the bribes to get BNDES to agree to the operations, which cost more than 10 billion reais.

According to the police report, Coutinho continued with the cycle of bribe payments that started during the administration of Mantega, who was also a former BNDES chairman.

For his part, Coutinho reportedly said the indictment caught him by surprise and that all his actions were done with "integrity, impartiality and respect for the law."

BNDES, in an email sent to the press, said it has put up an internal committee to look into the case. While the bank said the committee "did not identify any material fact" in its financial statements, BNDES hired an independent international audit team to "deepen internal investigations."

As of Aug. 23, US$1 was equivalent to 4.08 reais.