BRAZIL, São Paulo. The Brazilian poultry company BRF S.A. is the latest meat processor under scrutiny by the Brazilian government in its so-called “Operation Weak Flesh.”
Brazilian police also briefly arrested former BRF CEO Pedro Faria as part of the investigation, according to Reuters.
The Brazilian authorities released a statement on 5 March stating that five laboratories accredited with the Brazilian Agriculture Ministry (MAPA) and an unnamed business group falsified results of tests on meat samples. Several meat production units owned by BRF were cited as targets of the investigation by the police.
In total, the Brazilian police issued 11 temporary arrest orders, 53 search warrants and 27 coercive driving orders to bring people in for questioning. These warrants were issued in the Brazilian states of Goias, Parana, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and São Paulo.
“Operation Weak Flesh” refers to the ongoing investigation, which meat companies paid bribes to food safety inspectors in Brazil. In March 2017, the Federal Police in Brazil raided the facilities of dozens of meatpackers, including JBS S.A. and BRF S.A., as part of a two-year criminal investigation which found at least 40 cases of federal regulators accepting bribes in exchange for loosening regulations and helping food processors put adulterated food products in the marketplace.
BRF released a statement that said “…the company is collecting further details referred to the operation and is cooperating to elucidate the facts. The company reiterates that it fully remains at the disposal of authorities, keeping its agreement to full transparency in the communication with its clients, consumers, shareholders, and the market in general.”
Last month, BRF S.A. posted a fourth quarter loss of R$784 mill., compared to a loss of R$442 mill. in the year-ago period.
“A significant proportion of adverse results recorded in 2017, around 50% of them, arose from direct effects of the Weak Flesh Operation,” the company said in February. “The operation has led to the closure of many markets, generated discounts on export prices and brought relevant obstacles in the production chain, driving to relevant impacts on the company’s results.”
BRF also stated that a general shareholders’ assembly would take place on 26 April.