New investigation targets Brazilian meat producers.
brazil meat producers operation weak flesh brf foods

New investigation targets Brazilian meat producers.

The Federal Police launched this morning a new phase of Operation Weak Flesh – an investigation into Brazilian meat producers. This time, the investigation focuses on frauds allegedly committed by BRF, one of the country’s leading exporters. Since 6 a.m., federal marshals have carried out 53 search warrants, 11 arrest orders – and have taken 27 suspects for questioning.

Three of the arrest orders are against top executives of the company, including former CEO Pedro Faria.

Investigators suspect that BRF colluded with 5 laboratories to issue fraudulent analysis of meat samples, allegedly approving samples that didn’t meet quality standards. The accused can face different charges of fraud, criminal association, and crimes against public health.

BRF’s internal woes

With over 100,000 workers and present in over 150 countries, BRF is one of the world’s top meat producers. The company, however, is facing a major crisis. Profits have gone from 2.9 billion BRL in 2015 to negative results in 2016 and 2017: losses of 375 million and 1.1 billion BRL, respectively. The company’s major stakeholders are trying to replace retail tycoon Abilio Diniz as chairman of the board.

Operation Weak Flesh

This is the third phase of Operation Weak Flesh. The first two, both launched in 2017, exposed a corruption scheme within the Ministry of Agriculture. Federal auditors took bribes in exchange for issuing fraudulent sanitary permits. After the first phase, in March 2017, Brazil’s top 2 meat producers, JBS and BRF, experienced a significant loss in value: of 10.59 and 7.25 percent, respectively.

The operation’s name comes from a Brazilian popular expression about how easily people fall into temptation.  This popular Brazilian expression came directly from the Gospel According to Matthew, the first book of the New Testament. Here is the biblical passage that originated the term:

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Matthew 26:41

The term “weak flesh” can also be translated to Portuguese as“weak meat,” a reference to the poor quality of meat provided by big corporations. The use of the popular expression in the police operation demonstrates the weak moral quality of public agents. Instead of prosecuting agribusiness executives for faulty production, they accepted bribes to turn a blind eye.

Over the first week following the scandal, meat exports were down to an all-time low of $74,000 from $63 million. The number is 851 times lower than the norm.

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MoneyMar 05, 2018

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BY The Brazilian Report

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