Brazil police probe ag ministry for corruption

Sao Paulo | Reuters — Brazilian federal police started two separate investigations on Tuesday into suspected corruption at the Agriculture Ministry to benefit meatpacking, dairy and other food companies.

The probes into whether inspection procedures were eased in favour of certain unnamed companies comes two months after the country’s meatpacking industry was rocked by a wide-ranging investigation into alleged corruption and bribes targeting food sanitation inspectors.

In one of the two newly launched probes, police are investigating an alleged scheme aimed at delaying or cancelling fines in which about three million reais (C$1.3 million) changed hands between 2010 and 2016, they said in a statement.

Police said they would arrest 10 people, detain 16 for questioning and serve 36 search-and-seizure warrants in the states of Tocantins, Para, Sao Paulo and Pernambuco related to the allegations. They did not name specific targets.

The federal police said they are also separately probing improper protection of food companies as well as persecution of government food inspectors through disciplinary procedures and unfounded removals.

Several supervisors in the Agriculture Ministry’s arm in the southern state of Santa Catarina have been removed from their jobs as part of the probe, which found evidence that unnamed companies imported chemically adulterated fish into the Brazilian market without adequate oversight.

The operation is the latest corruption probe ensnaring big companies and senior officials in Latin America’s largest economy.

Reporting for Reuters by Pedro Fonseca; writing by Bruno Federowski and Christian Plumb.

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