Brazil's top appeals court orders release of JBS's Batista, Ricardo Saud

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's billionaire businessman Joesley Batista is pictured at the Brasilia international airport, after giving testimony in Brasilia, Brazil, September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo

BRASÍLIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s top appeals court on Monday ordered the release of one of meat processor JBS’ controlling shareholders, Joesley Batista, and Ricardo Saud, a lawyer for J&F Investimentos, which controls JBS.

Both were arrested on Friday in an investigation into illegal campaign contributions and alleged bribery of government officials.

Last week’s arrests were the latest blow to JBS’s controlling Batista family, which last year signed plea bargain agreements with prosecutors admitting to bribing scores of politicians to advance their business interests.

JBS shares were virtually unchanged in late afternoon trade at the Sao Paulo stock exchange, at 9.95 reais.

Neri Geller, who served as agriculture minister under former President Dilma Rousseff, was also arrested last week but released from jail earlier on Monday, according a decision posted on the court’s website.

Rodrigo Figueiredo, who served as secretary for agriculture defense under Geller in 2014, was also freed from jail on Monday, the court said.

Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by Andrea Ricci