One of the world’s largest meat processors was forced to close two of its US factories this week after four of its workers died of the coronavirus and more than 100 tested positive – but the pandemic is not the only tangle the company faces.
Last week, JBS – owned by Brazilian billionaire brothers Wesley and Joesley Batista – announced plans to close a plant in Greeley, Colorado, after four of its workers died of the coronavirus, including a long-time employee, Saul Sanchez, 78 years old.
A subsequent investigation by the Weld County Department of Public Health and the Environment attributed the company’s “work during sick culture” as the catalyst behind the meat-packing plant that became a hot spot COVID-19.
County health official Dr. Mark Wallace wrote to the plant on April 2 – five days before the first reported death among its employees – to warn that some of the factory workers felt compelled to continue assist even when they felt sick.
“These concerns expressed to clinicians included a perception by employees of a culture of” work during illness “which included managers and supervisors coming to work during illness,” Wallace wrote in the letter, as reported for the first time the KDVR.
Brazilian billionaire brothers who own JBS, (left to right) Wesley and Joesley Batista, are now linked to a high-level government corruption scheme that stunned the South American country
JBS was forced to shut down some of its US factories this week after more than 100 of its employees tested positive for coronavirus and four died (photo: now closed plant in Greeley, CO)
In his letter of April 2, Wallace ordered the company to take the temperature of employees on arrival, implement social distancing protocols and ask anyone with symptoms to self-isolate at home.
“If I find evidence of continuing violations,” wrote Wallace. “I will seek the assistance of the district attorney to consider criminal proceedings against you and your staff and / or the Weld County attorney to seek an injunction against your business.”
JBS finally slowed down operations at the beef processing plant on April 15, but not before dozens more of its 4,500 workers became infected with the virus and at least four died.
A JBS plant in Souderton, Pennsylvania, was also forced to close last month after dozens of workers fell ill with flu-like symptoms, but the company announced plans to reopen the plant on Monday.
The company has since denied having forced or encouraged workers to come forward while showing symptoms.
“No one is forced to come to work and no one is punished for being absent for health reasons. If someone is sick or lives with someone who is sick, we send them home; spokesman Nikki Richardson told the Daily Beast. “The health and safety of our team members is our number one priority.”
Richardson further noted that the federal government had sought to keep food supply chains running during the pandemic, citing them as essential businesses.
Last week, JBS – which sells beef and chicken under its Pilgrim Pride and Swift labels – announced plans to close a plant in Greeley, Colorado after the death of four of its employees from coronavirus , including longtime employee Saul, 78 Sanchez (pictured)
“When I called to let them know he was sick and to let the rest of the staff know he was positive, I got no response,” said daughter Beatriz Rangel, adding that Sanchez was willing to work at the factory even during the epidemic because he trusted his employer
In addition to the misfortunes of the JBS coronavirus, its parent company, J&F Investments, has now reportedly been investigated by the United States Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission into allegations of corruption.
In October, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez urged the federal government to investigate the beef conglomerate and its alleged relations with the Venezuelan government after the company established a business relationship with the president of the country, Nicolas Maduro – who the United States. imposed sanctions against.
These calls were renewed last week by the President of the Senate, the Minister of Finance, Chuck Grassley, who accused JBS – which slaughters more than 13 million animals a day and made profits of 51 billion dollars the last year – from US cattle farmers weighing prices amid the coronavirus epidemic.
Investigation by the County of Weld’s Department of Public Health and the Environment found that “work during sick culture” could cause the meat packing plant to become a COVID-19 hotspot (photo : Protestant vampire dress of President Michel Temer protesting in front of the Office of the Presidency of the Republic on August 2, 2017 in Sao Paulo, Brazil)
A JBS factory in Souderton, Pennsylvania, was also forced to shutdown last month after dozens of workers had flu-like symptoms, but the company announced plans to reopen the plant on Monday.
Brother Batista’s legal problems also prevailed at home. Joseley and Welsey, who are known to live sumptuously, have both spent six months in a Brazilian prison after being charged with insider trading.
They admitted bribing nearly 2,000 elected officials in Brazil to obtain government funding to fuel the expansion of their business in the United States a few years ago, and received more than $ 3.2 billion in fines. in 2017, the highest in the country’s history.
The following year, the brothers sold a 7,000 square foot apartment they owned at the Baccarat Hotel for $ 11 million, allegedly to help pay the above fines and subsequent legal fees.
And now, a Brazilian lawyer is working to recover billions of dollars of public funds that the Batista brothers obtained by “illicit” means.
The legal expert recently wrote to the New York Attorney General, urging them to open an investigation into the alleged activity while JBS touts the idea of going public on the New York Stock Exchange, calling them “an imminent threat.”
Brother Batista’s successive woes have prompted New York’s Attorney General Letitia James to investigate their business as an “imminent threat” before it begins public negotiations on Wall Street.
Brother Batista’s legal problems also prevailed at home. Joseley and Welsey, who are known to live sumptuously, both spent six months in a Brazilian prison after being accused of insider trading (photo: Joesley Batista disembarks from a plane of the Brazilian federal police at the international airport from Brasilia on September 11, 2017)
They admitted to bribing nearly 2,000 elected officials in Brazil to obtain government funding to fuel the expansion of their business in the United States a few years ago and received more than $ 3.2 billion in fines in 2017, the highest in the country’s history.
“We are writing to draw attention … to these troubling issues as they potentially pose an imminent threat to New York residents, investors and financial institutions,” said a letter dated December 20, 2019 to the New York attorney general, Letitia James, according to the NY Post. .
“This proposed transaction is actually an attempt by the Batistas to raise funds to pay their multibillion-dollar fines and to legitimize themselves and their businesses through an IPO approved by the United States,” said the lawyers of Mauricio Mota, professor of Brazilian law.
The attorney general’s office has yet to comment on the allegations, but a spokesperson for JBS USA told the media that the company “was not aware of any such request.”
” [JBS] has not been charged with any wrongdoing, “said Nikki Richardson. “JBS has cooperated fully with all relevant authorities in the United States regarding the events in Brazil almost three years ago. To date, all investigations have focused on events in Brazil, and the company will continue to cooperate and respond to any further requests. “