Will JBS Survive a Political Corruption Scandal?


This article was published on the Emerge 85 blog on Aug. 28, 2017:

By Rasheed Abou-Alsamh

If you live in the Americas or Europe, you’ve probably eaten beef or chicken processed by Brazilian meat giant JBS. At its peak, just a few years ago, JBS was slaughtering 90,000 head of cattle a day. Now, battered by a recession and its role in a corruption scandal, its future is set to be smaller.

However, as the world’s largest producer of animal protein, JBS is expected to survive its involvement in one of Brazil’s biggest political scandals not just because of its size, but also because it draws 80% of its income from abroad. In 2016, the company pulled in revenue of $53.5bn. In comparison, its closest rival, Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, made $41.3bn in 2015.

The majority owners of JBS, brothers Joesley and Wesley Batista, are accused of bribing politicians in exchange for rulings and favours that would benefit the business. They are also accused of paying members of congress R$30m ($9.5m) to ensure Eduardo Cunha – who has since been jailed – was elected speaker of the House of Representatives in 2015. The Batistas called the payments “campaign contributions”, claims denied by Cunha who says the money was given directly to each congressman.

Secret contributions to political parties started small, in 2002, amounting to about R$200,000 ($63,514). By 2014, they had ballooned to about R$366m ($116.2m), divided among 24 parties.

The brothers have been under investigation since 2016, with at least five separate cases opened against them during that time. On May 18, 2017, they agreed to tell investigators everything about the scheme – in return for total immunity from prosecution and a R$225m ($71.4m) fine to be paid back over ten years.

Rapid growth and expansion overseas

JBS began life in 1953 as Casa de Carnes Mineira, a small butcher’s shop in Anápolis run by José Batista Sobrinho, father to Joesley and Wesley. That same decade, the planning and building of Brazil’s new federal capital Brasilia gave Sobrinho the chance to expand his business. Envisioned by President Juscelino Kubitschek, Brasilia was born to develop the country’s interior and disperse some of the Brazilian population concentrated along the coastline. But such development takes time, and for several years Brasilia was nothing more than a collection of construction sites – construction sites that, in 1957, Sobrinho began supplying beef to. But it was not until 1970 that the butcher decided to buy his first slaughterhouse and change the company name to Friboi.

By 1980, Friboi had bought another meat processing plant in the Federal District, tripling the number of cattle slaughtered daily to 300. In 1985, Friboi decided to expand out of the meat business, building a plant to produce soaps. But it didn’t take Sobrinho long to once again hear the call of the cattle, and a small meat-processing plant was purchased in Luziânia in 1988. Eight years later, a fourth plant was purchased in Goiânia that would allow Friboi to meet stringent European meat standards and export its goods further afield.

But it wasn’t until 2005, with the purchase of Argentine meat processor Swift Armour, that Friboi’s international expansion began. Two years later it launched an initial public offering and was listed on the São Paulo Stock Exchange. It also changed its name to JBS, in honour of its founder, and bought Swift units in the US and Australia. This also marked the addition of pork and chicken to its range of products.

In 2009, JBS bought major US poultry-processing company Pilgrim’s Pride, significantly boosting its US payroll to 70,000. In 2015, Primo Smallgoods in Australia and Moy Park in Ireland came under its remit. The Moy Park acquisition helped JBS grow its manufacturing and distribution of prepared foods in Europe, and in 2016 the company’s income rose to R$170bn ($5.4bn), up from R$4bn ($1.3bn) in 2006.

To read the rest of my article please visit the Emerge85 website: http://emerge85.io/articles/will-jbs-survive-political-corruption-scandal/

Congresswoman Throws a Fit After Eating Pork!

THE RIDICULOUS incident that was reported in INQ7.net on Tuesday, that Lanao del Sur Representative Faysah Dumarpa had allegedly pointed a knife at Virginia Altamirano, a waiteress of the Shangri-la Chine Cuisine, after she was served pork during a dinner with other lawmakers at the House on Monday, made me laugh it was so silly!

The waitress went to a local police station to file a complaint against Dumarpa for allegedly hitting her in the face, throwing a glass of water at her and waving a knife menacingly at her. The Muslim congresswoman denies hitting the poor waitress, but admits that she threw the glass of water onto the floor and that she indeed had a knife in her hand at the time of her outburst.

In a nasty letter to the owner of the restaurant, Dumarpa is demanding that the staff involved in serving the lunch all be sacked for serving her pork, either knowingly or through incompetence, even though she claims to have asked several of the staff whether any of the dishes contained pork.

“What I did after that was my natural reaction on a situation where I felt betrayed,” she said in her letter to the restaurant owner, Ramon Sy. “I was grossly insulted, and I assumed your crew members purposely caused that by intentional concealment of the fact herein set forth. If not at all intentional, then there must have been gross negligence on their part,” Dumarpa said. The lawmaker explained that for Muslims, eating pork and its derivatives was forbidden in Islam and considered a “grievous sin” in their religion. She said an intentional consumption of meat would hinder her from gaining entrance to paradise.

“Intentional” is the key word here. I can surely say that her eating pork in this instance was NOT intentional, so I don’t see how her entrance to Heaven would be jeopordized by eating pork by mistake. I would instead suggest to her that slapping a defenseless waitress in the face, shouting like a crazed person and throwing a glass of water on the floor in a scandalous fashion, is what surely would keep her out of Paradise!

Fellow Lanao del Sur Representative Benasing Macarambon also attended this luncheon, and told INQ7.net that eating pork accidentally was allegedly more upsetting to him and other Muslims than catching their spouses with another person! What nonsense! How is accidentally eating pork now WORSE than catching your spouse committing adultery?! The logic escapes me here.

In a country where the majority of the population loves anything porky, and where the national dish is lechon de leche, I am not surprised that Muslim politicians often find pork lurking in the food that is served to them. As my father always told me, eating pork unknowingly was okay, as long as one stopped eating the dish as soon as we found out it contained pork.

Instead of slapping hapless waiters and throwing tantrums in public, Muslim politicians would do better to have someone inspect the kitchen while their food was being prepared, or better yet, bring their own halal, pork-free food with them to avoid any such mix-ups in the future.

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