The Brazilian Federal Police launched Operation “Carne Fraca” (“Weak Meat”) against agribusiness corruption on Friday. The police are investigating deals made between auditors from the Ministry of Agriculture and meat producers. Moreover, authorities have identified the sector’s biggest companies in the affair.
Companies paid hefty bribes to auditors in exchange for fraudulent sanitary licenses. A Federal Court has issued arrest warrants against 38 people as well as blocked more than $350M in assets. After two years of investigations, authorities found that the Ministry of Agriculture used regional bureaus to coordinate the corruption schemes.
The police identified corrupt deals in the states of Minas Gerais, Goiás, São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and Paraná. Authorities have also identified corrupt actions in the nation’s capital, Distrito Federal. According to police statements, these ministry employees “acted directly in protecting business groups to the detriment of public interest”.
Of the 309 court mandates procured by the police, 38 are for the immediate arrest of authorities and agribusiness executives. Furthermore, 194 of the court mandates are for search and seizure in places of residence or work.
The term “weak meat” in Portuguese is 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.