December 11, 2018 / 11:14 AM / 7 months ago

Brazil police reveal corruption probe related to meatpacker JBS

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA is seen in the city of Jundiai, Brazil June 1, 2017. Picture taken June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo

BRASILIA/RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian police made public on Tuesday an investigation into corruption involving three senators and three lawmakers that stemmed from a related probe into major meatpacker JBS SA.

The police carried out 24 search-and-seizure warrants in the early morning hours, they said in a written statement, as part of an investigation into money laundering and corruption, among other crimes. The inquiry is looking into ill-gotten gains from a “large meatpacking company.”

While the police did not name the meatpacking company or the lawmakers involved, they said the searches were a phase of “Operation Patmos,” which involves plea bargain testimony from JBS executives.

Among the properties the police searched, according to local media reports, was the apartment of Senator Aécio Neves, who came close to winning the 2014 presidential race and who has been charged for soliciting at least 2 million reais ($512,000) in bribes from a major JBS shareholder.

J&F Investimentos, the holding company that controls JBS, declined to comment.

A lawyer for Neves said his client was willing to help clarify issues for investigators, and that the police probe was based on plea bargain testimony from JBS executives most concerned with maintaining the “generous” terms of their plea deals.

Last week, investigators from the U.S. Department of Justice visited Brazil to question shareholders of J&F.

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu and Gram Slattery, editing by Louise Heavens and Bernadette Baum

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