Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Brazilian federal police arrest ex-billionaire Eike Batista on suspicion of market manipulation and money laundering

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Federal police on Thursday arrested Brazilian businessman Eike Batista, once the holder of the country’s biggest fortune, on suspicion of market manipulation and money laundering.

This is the second time that authorities have arrested Batista, a former oil and mining magnate who in 2011 was listed by Forbes magazine as the world’s eighth-richest person. He is currently serving a 30-year sentence under house arrest.

Batista was arrested at his Rio de Janeiro home on a five-day warrant that could be extended for another five-day period. Authorities also searched the residences of his two sons, Thor and Olin Batista.

Batista’s lawyer was not immediately able to comment on the arrest.

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Federal prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro said the arrest was based on several testimonies that indicate Batista had a prominent role in market manipulation and money laundering that involved countries such as the United States, Canada, Panama, Ireland and the Bahamas and companies such as Burger King.

RelatedBrazil: Ex-president Lula da Silva Convicted to Twelve Years and Eleven Months for Atibaia

Two Canadian mining firms had their finances manipulated, officials said.

Batista is being investigated for hiding large sums of money in an unofficial bank based in Panama, The Advisor Investments, officials said.

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Some of the earnings from the purported scheme were sent to an account in the Bahamas and then used to pay kickbacks to government officials in Brazil to ensure big government contracts, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said they are investigating money transactions of around 800 million reals (about $203 million).

Batista was convicted of corruption and money laundering in a separate case last year and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was found guilty of paying around $16.5 million in bribes to the Rio de Janeiro governor to gain an advantage in government contracts.

The arrest is an offshoot of Brazil’s huge anti-graft investigation, known as “Operation Car Wash.”

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