(Adds comments from JBS, Marfrig)
By Pedro Fonseca and Brad Haynes
RIO DE JANEIRO Jan 13 Brazilian police raided
homes and offices on Friday in a corruption investigation of
loans that state bank Caixa Econômica Federal extended to
meatpacking, finance, toll road and real estate firms between
2011 and 2013.
Brasilia-based federal Judge Vallisney Oliveira issued an
arrest and search warrant on grounds that a former minister to
President Michel Temer allegedly colluded with a former lower
house speaker to grant loans to several companies in exchange
Oliveira wrote that the ex-minister, Geddel Vieira Lima,
then vice president at Caixa, and former Speaker Eduardo Cunha
allegedly steered loans to companies in a graft scheme including
meatpackers JBS SA and Marfrig Global Foods SA
Lima resigned from the cabinet in November amid allegations
he had pressured another minister to approve a real estate
project. His lawyers did not reply to a request for comment.
Shares of JBS, Brazil's biggest meatpacker, fell 2 percent
on Friday. Marfrig shares fell over 2 percent before rebounding
to trade up 1 percent.
Representatives for JBS and Marfrig said their companies'
offices were not raided and they denied any wrongdoing.
Representatives for Marfrig said the company borrowed from
Caixa at market rates without any special privileges.
Caixa said in a statement that the bank is collaborating
with authorities. A presidential press representative declined
Police said a statement that the latest investigation
followed from text messages discovered on a cell phone in a
December 2015 raid on the home of Cunha, then speaker of
Brazil's lower house.
Cunha is now in prison on separate corruption allegations.
His lawyers dismissed the latest allegations as "absolutely
The police raid on Friday was the latest case raising
questions about investment protocols at Caixa, where politically
appointed management has long held sway.
Federal prosecutors have previously said they were
investigating Caixa for potentially corrupt investments at the
Rio de Janeiro "Marvelous Port" development linked to last
That project is an 8 billion reais ($2.49 billion) makeover
of the city's dilapidated waterfront, including five 38-story
office buildings to be built by U.S. President-elect Donald
Trump's real estate company.
The pension fund for oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA's
employees called in December for an investigation of
losses on investments managed by Caixa's asset management unit.
Brazil's federal audit court also blocked Caixa in August
from selling bad loan portfolios due to alleged irregularities.
($1 = 3.22 reais)
(Additional reporting and writing by Brad Haynes and Guillermo
Parra-Bernal in Sao Paulo; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Leslie