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12 charged for crimes relating to BNDES' ops in meat processor JBS

Brazil's federal public prosecutor's office has filed charges against 12 people for alleged irregularities in the operations of state-owned Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social in meat processing company JBS SA between 2007 and 2011.

Among those named in the lawsuit are JBS owner Joesley Batista, former finance ministers Guido Mantega and Antonio Palocci, as well as former BNDES President Luciano Coutinho.

Prosecutors have accused the 12 of crimes such as gang formation, active and passive corruption, fraudulent management, financial mismanagement and money laundering. The lawsuit seeks compensation totaling more than 5.5 billion reais, including a loss to the bank estimated at 1.86 billion reais and another 3.72 billion reais as compensation for damages.

According to the prosecutors, political and economic decisions were made "in a project that would have as objective the internalization of the JBS group, in order that the holding company would operate in new markets." BNDES lent the group more than what was allowed and at a time shorter than what is recommended by the bank itself, the lawsuit added. The prosecutors also denounced BNDES' lack of monitoring in the said financial operations.

The alleged crimes were not reported by Batista when he signed a leniency agreement with the prosecutor's office in 2017, the prosecutors said.

BNDES' investment arm, BNDES Participações SA, bought shares of JBS between 2007 and 2011, enabling it to become a partner in the company and provide capital that was used to acquire JBS' competitors.

As of March 15, US$1 was equivalent to 3.81 Brazilian reais.