SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian federal police on Wednesday advanced an investigation into allegations of food inspectors being bribed that involves Agriculture Ministry officials, meatpackers and dairy companies in three states.
In a statement, police said they were serving 11 arrest warrants, 28 search-and-seizure warrants and bringing in 12 people for questioning as part of the probe.
The statement did not disclose the names of any of the people involved.
The agriculture ministry said in a statement it closed plants implicated in the latest phase of the probe. The ministry will embargo exports from four facilities run by Minerva SA, privately owned LKJ, Boi Brasil and Gelnex Indústria e Comércio.
Minerva confirmed its Araguaína unit was targeted. It said it is cooperating with the authorities. In a statement, Minerva clarified there was no formal accusation against the company or its managers.
Minerva’s shares dropped 3 percent to 11.95 reais Wednesday, touching a two-month low.
LKJ, Boi Brasil and Gelnex Indústria e Comércio could not be reached for comment.
The probe is one in a series of corruption scandals in Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, ensnaring major companies from meatpackers and engineering firms to oil producers, as well as several high ranking politicians.
In March, the so-called “Weak Flesh” investigation uncovered allegations that food inspectors were bribed to evade safety standards, which led to several countries temporarily banning Brazilian meat exports.
Reporting by Pedro Fonseca and Ana Mano, writing by Bruno Federowski; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Grant McCool