JBS records Brazilian president discussing bribe: report

JBS records Brazilian president discussing bribe: report

By Anna Flávia Rochas on 5/18/2017

JBS Chairman Joesley Batista presented a recording during a plea bargain testimony in April in which Brazil’s President Michel Temer appears to endorse bribery payment to a witness investigated in the country’s largest corruption probe, according to an exclusive report by newspaper O Globo on Wednesday night without mentioning sources.

In the alleged recording made by JBS in March, President Temer endorsed the payment of hush money from JBS to former House Speaker Eduardo Cunha, who is currently jailed, in order to keep him from testifying. When Temer heard from Batista about the payments, the president was recording saying: “You have to keep that up, okay?” the newspaper reported.

Also in the recording, President Temer appoints congressman Rodrigo Rocha Loures, from his party PMDB, to resolve a matter regarding J&F, the holding company controlling JBS. Subsequently, Rocha Loures was filmed receiving a suitcase with BRL500,000 ($159,530) sent by Joesley Batista, according to the newspaper.

Temer confirmed the meeting with Joesley Batista but denied the allegations reported by the newspaper. “President Michel Temer never asked for payments to obtain the silence of former deputy Eduardo Cunha. He did not participate and did not authorize any movement in order to avoid testimony or collaboration with the Justice by the ex-parliamentarian,” according to the statement.

“The meeting with businessman Joesley Batista took place in early March at the Jaburu Palace, but there was nothing in the dialogue that would jeopardize the conduct of the President of the Republic.”

JBS declined to comment about the story on Thursday morning.

According to the newspaper, Batista also reported in the testimony that he paid BRL5 million ($1.6 million) to Eduardo Cunha after he went to jail, as part of an outstanding balance of bribery. Batista also said he owed BRL20 million ($6.4 million) to Cunha regarding the law on tax exemption for the poultry sector.

JBS’ plea bargain testimonies related to the Operation Car Wash started in April and ended in the first week of May. JBS’ executives will pay a fine of BRL225 million ($72 million) as part of the plea bargain testimony negotiations, according to O Globo.