Wesley Batista leaves jail
The Superior Justice Court in Brasilia decided on Tuesday by a three-to-two vote to release Batista, 47, after almost six months behind bars. He left the jail in Sao Paulo on Wednesday, according to a spokesman for J&F Investimentos, the Batista family holding company. He will be required to remain in the country and can’t take any role in running his family’s companies, including JBS. Joesley Batista, his brother and former JBS chairman, also had his release ordered by the court in connection with the insider-trading allegations, but he will remain in jail under a separate order for allegedly concealing information during previous negotiations over a plea bargain.
The court decision comes the same week it was revealed that JBS agreed to shut down its foreign exchange desk and increase the board’s oversight over hedging operations. Well-timed currency trades helped boost JBS’s profits in recent years. In 2017, some of those trades became the focus of prosecutors, who said JBS profited from a 2.8 billion USD bet against the Brazilian real in the weeks before a plea deal involving company executives was first reported.
The latest measures taken by JBS will prevent Wesley Batista from directly ordering currency-derivative trades, Pierpaolo Bottini, a lawyer representing the Batista brothers, said Tuesday before the court in Brasilia voted on an injunction seeking the release of Joesley and Wesley pending the outcome of the insider-trading probe. The brothers deny any wrongdoing.
"Nine months after the act and six months after the jailing, the risk of recidivism has weakened, not enough to disappear, but enough to justify other measures that should suffice to protect the case and society," said Judge Rogerio Schietti, who was responsible for the case in the court.
The saga surrounding JBS, the world’s largest meat company, has transfixed Brazilians and sent prices of its bonds and shares on a roller-coaster ride in the past year. In May, it was revealed that the brothers had reached an agreement with the authorities to stay out jail after after testifying about a long-running scheme to bribe politicians, news that sent Brazilian markets, and the real, reeling.