BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian police said on Tuesday they had opened the next phase in a corruption investigation into an unnamed meatpacking company accused of bribing food inspectors with 19 million reais ($4.6 million) in illegal payments.
The alleged activity came to an end in 2017 when the group underwent an internal restructuring, police said in a statement, adding that around 280 police officers were serving 68 search and arrest warrants across nine states.
The company in question approached authorities with the information and cooperated voluntarily, the statement said. The company indicated that more than 60 federal agricultural food inspectors had benefited from the bribes.
Police said the funds were paid in kind, via healthcare plans and even dummy contracts signed with legal entities that represented the individuals in some way.
This is the fourth phase of ‘Operation Weak Meat’ launched in March 2017, which initially threw Brazil’s animal protein sector into crisis with reports of irregularities in the supervision of refrigerators, leading many countries to temporarily suspend purchases of Brazilian products.
Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Gareth Jones