By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Executives from Brazilian meatpacking giant JBS told federal prosecutors that the company paid politicians like current Senate President, Eunicio Oliveira and former Foreign Relations Minister and current Senator Jose Serra, to obtain benefits in legislation passed by Congress.
According to the executives, Oliveira received R$5 million to make changes in a legislative decree issued by the executive which could potentially jeopardize the properties of J&F, JBS’s parent holding company, if approved. Oliveira was the sponsor of the decree.
“We went to the Finance and Planning Ministries, I looked for senators to sensitize them. We got nowhere. I said, ‘Then there’s only one way: paying a bribe’,” J&F’s Institutional Relations and Government Director, Ricardo Saud told prosecutors.
According to Saud, after speaking to Oliveira, the transfer of R$5 million was agreed upon, which he said were paid as ‘donations’ that ‘had nothing to do’ with electoral contributions.
In the case of former cabinet member, Jose Serra, JBS president Joesley Batista said, the former foreign minister received R$20 million during the 2010 presidential campaign, which only R$13 million was official donation to the PSDB.
“I thought it was all official. Now we found out in the internal audits that, of the R$20 million, R$6 million were paid without being registered as an official donation,” Batista told prosecutors.
In addition to Oliveira and Serra, JBS is also said to have given money to former São Paulo City mayor, Marta Suplicy and former Health Minister, Alexandre Padilha.
JBS President Joesley Batista dropped a bombshell in Brazil’s political scene last week when he revealed that he had recorded a conversation with President Michel Temer, where Brazil’s leader is heard telling the meatpacking executive to continue to pay off former Chamber of Deputies president, Eduardo Cunha, for his silence.
Batista’s testimony to federal prosecutors is part of a plea-bargaining deal made by JBS executives to give them immunity from illegal activities in the Lava Jato (Carwash) scandal.