November 9, 2018 / 10:42 AM / 5 days ago

UPDATE 1-JBS shareholder Batista arrested in food sector corruption investigation

(Adds details from federal revenue service and federal police statements)

RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Joesley Batista, one of the controlling shareholders of meat packer JBS SA, was arrested on Friday in connection with a food-sector bribery probe, a press representative for the businessman told Reuters.

The federal police are serving multiple arrest and search warrants related to the investigation, according to statements issued on Friday by the police and the federal revenue service, which are cooperating in the probe.

The claims center around illegal campaign funding by a large unnamed meatpacking firm that involves lawmakers from various parties and officials at the Agriculture Ministry, the police and tax authority said.

Press representatives at the agriculture ministry and JBS were not immediately available for comment.

Batista's lawyer André Callegari said in a statement his client's imprisonment is temporary and he will continue to cooperate with the authorities.

The tax authority said that two large retailers based in the state of Minas Gerais were also involved in the case, that it and the police say took place between 2014 and 2015.

The tax authority says 22 million reais ($5.85 million) in bribes may have been paid under the scheme to politicians and government officials. ($1 = 3.7604 reais) (Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; writing by Ana Mano; editing by Jason Neely and Kirsten Donovan)

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