Although it may seem like a distant memory, the investigations into corruption in Brazil’s meat and agriculture businesses continues, with another two investigations launched recently focusing on allegations of preferential treatment meted out to certain business by Brazil’s agricultural department. The first set of accusations centre on the apparent easing of regulations for some businesses, and the delaying or cancellation of fines levied against businesses who were not complying with the rules. Ten people have been arrested as part of this investigation.
The second probe focuses on the treatment of government officials who were acting in accordance with the rules, but not playing by the corrupt playbook that it seems many of the other officials were. These people had been unfairly disciplined and removed from their positions, indeed one of our previous reports on this issue mentioned how one whistleblower was repeatedly subjected to downgrades of his position and removed from inspection duties when he reported that regulations were not being followed. Several supervisors in the agriculture ministry have been removed as a result of this investigation.
JBS, one of the largest meatpacking firms in Brazil and also one of the central figures in the investigation into bribery and contamination in the country’s meat industry, has announced an unsurprising drop of 14% in net revenue for the first quarter of 2017. The picture could have been a lot worse, and the reasons are multifactorial.
Brazil’s currency, the real, has experienced a drop in value against the dollar, which has affected profits in the South American parts of the JBS business. The meat processing giant owns operations in the US, Canada and Europe, owning Moy Park (EU), Pilgrims Pride (US) as well as beef processing interests in North America. The profits experienced by these arms of the business have rescued the disastrous economic performances of the Brazilian and Mercosul businesses.
As more companies are being investigated over corruption and adulteration it is expected that more arrests will be made, and the effect on the profits of some of the smaller companies, without international divisions, will be badly affected. This in turn will have a negative effect on Brazil’s economy, but a positive global effect on food safety.