JBS Fact Check

JBS is a Brazillian company which owns 100% of Huon Aquaculture

JBS long-standing corruption, and foreign takeovers

  • On 16 August 2021 NOFF and TAMP wrote to then Treasurer Frydenberg, and the head of the Foreign Investment Review Board, prior to the JBS takeover of Huon Aquaculture, requesting rejection of the takeover on the grounds that the owners of JBS were unfit to own an Australian company.

  • We attached a bipartisan letter from leading US Senators Menendez and Rubio to the US Secretary of the Treasury, outlining in verifiable detail the long-standing tawdry track record of JBS, and of Joesley and Wesley Batista, who hold a controlling interest in JBS.

  • Their record, in the US and elsewhere, includes convictions and massive fines for bribery and corruption, involvement in destruction of Amazon rainforests to enhance their cattle operations and supplies, and in Tasmania, accepting significant government support and then closing most of their abattoir and processing facilities, to the serious disadvantage of local businesses and communities.

JBS and price fixing

  • In September 2020 the US Department of Justice launched an antitrust investigation into the "Big Four" meatpackers, which process more than 80% of beef in the US. Bloomberg reported that the DOJ subpoenaed Tyson, JBS, Cargill, and National Beef, after state AGs wrote to AG William Barr, concerned that the companies may be conspiring to squeeze ranchers during the coronavirus pandemic. Source: The Counter, 6 Sept 2020, viewed online 4 June 2023.
  • In February 2022 JBS agreed to pay $52.5 million to settle litigation accusing meat packers of conspiring to limit supply in the $63 billion-a-year U.S. beef market to inflate prices and boost profit. Lawyers for the purchasers called the accord an "icebreaker", citing JBS' $24.5 million settlement in 2020 of price-fixing claims by pork purchasers. JBS said it did not admit liability but that settling was in its best interest. Source: Reuters, 23 Feb 2022, viewed online 4 June 2023.
  • In September 2022 JBS agreed to pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit that accused them of conspiring with other meat companies to inflate the price of pork. Previously, JBS agreed to pay restaurants and caterers $12.75 million as part of a different settlement in this pork lawsuit. JBS did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the deal. Source: Fortune, 20 September 2022, viewed online 4 June 2023.
  • In April 2023 JBS agreed to pay $25 million to commercial beef purchasers who accused them of conspiring with industry rivals to restrict market supply to keep prices artificially high. It is the second deal that JBS and its US units have struck in the case, after they agreed last year to pay $52.5 million to grocers and others that make up the "direct" beef purchaser class. JBS denied liability as part of the settlement. Source: Reuters, 17 April 2023, viewed online 4 June 2023.

JBS and bribery

  • Executives of JBS were secretly funnelling $US149 million in bribe payments to election candidates in Brazil's federal election in 2014 (Source: Australian Financial Review 7 October 2022, viewed online 1 June 2023).
  • In October 2020 Reuters reported that Brazil's J&F Investimentos, parent company of the world's largest meatpacker JBS, pleaded guilty to U.S. foreign bribery charges and agreed to pay $128.25 million in criminal fines.
  • J&F is paying only half of the $256.5 million fines due to settlements made with Brazilian authorities three years ago. Then, J&F paid a record-setting $1.85 billion fine in Brazil for its role in corruption scandals that severely weakened then-president Michel Temer.
  • In Brazil, its top executives have admitted to bribing more than 1,900 politicians to advance JBS's expansion and secure low-cost financing from state-run banks.
  • A U.S. charging document said that between 2005 and 2017 the company conspired to bribe officials to secure financing and "equity transactions" from state-controlled banks BNDES and Caixa Economica Federal, as well as Petros, the pension fund for employees of state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro.
  • The bribes J&F executives paid to high-level government officials exceeded $150 million, which generated $178 million in profit for the company, U.S. prosecutors said.
  • J&F also agreed to pay $27 million to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to settle charges related to the bribery scheme.
  • ABC Four Corners reported in April 2022 that JBS used the funds from loans secured through bribery to fund its expansion into Australia (Source: ABC News, 25 April 2022 Four Corners transcript, viewed online 1 June 2023).

All other sources: Reuters Commodities 15 Oct 2020, viewed online 2 June 2023

JBS and Amazon deforestation

  • A 2021 audit has found that a third of the cattle acquired by Brazilian food group JBS for factories in the Amazon region were from areas with deforestation issues and other issues. The 2020 audit from the Federal Prosecutor's Office of Para (MPF-PA) analysed cattle transactions between January 2018 and June 2019.
  • The factories in the region purchased 940,617 head of cattle between January 2018 and June 2019, of which 31.99% came from areas with problems (equals 300,000 head of cattle). This represents more than three times the 9.95% tolerance rate stipulated by MPF-PA for the 2020 audit.
  • In 2019, 8 per cent of cattle purchased by the company came from farms with irregularities. In 2018, it was 19 per cent.
  • In 2013 JBS signed an Agreement with the Brazillian Federal Prosecutor's Office of Para not to purchase cattle from farms in illegally deforested areas or from properties involved in environmental crimes. The companies also agreed to stop buying cattle from ranchers blacklisted for engaging in slave labor, occupying indigenous land and violating environmental preserves

Source: Reuters Sustainable Business, 8 October 2021, viewed online 1 June 2023

JBS and carbon emissions

  • The combined methane emissions of 15 of the world's largest meat and dairy companies are higher than those of several of the world's largest countries, including Russia, Canada and Australia, according to a new study.
  • The report from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and the Changing Markets Foundation, does a lot of math on food giants like JBS, Tyson, Nestle, and Danone, finding that just 15 meat and dairy companies are responsible for 3.4% of global methane emissions from human activity.
  • Researchers singled out individual livestock companies such as JBS, the world's largest meat company, and the French dairy giant Danone.
  • JBS's methane emissions "far outpace all other companies", according to the report, exceeding the combined livestock emissions of France, Germany, Canada and New Zealand. The world's largest meat and dairy companies are responsible for more than 10% of all global methane emissions from livestock, with some singular companies emitting as much or more methane than many individual countries, including Russia, Germany, and Australia.

Source: Just Food, 21 November 2022, viewed online 1 June 2023

Read an IATP report here and another report here (viewed online 2 June 2023)

JBS and PwC

  • In 2014 JBS was negotiating with PwC Australia to ensure tax advice given to JBS's Australian subsidiaries would be covered by legal professional privilege (Source: Australian Financial Review, 25 March 2022, viewed online 1 June 2023).
  • In early 2014, PwC proposed to JBS that PwC lead a global reorganisation that they claimed in later emails could lawfully save JBS $250 million in US tax and potentially $70 million a year in Australian taxes (Source: The Guardian, 6 June 2022, viewed online 1 June 2023).
  • On 9 December PwC Australia began work to move ownership of JBS to Luxembourg (Source: Australian Financial Review, 8 October 2022, viewed online 1 June 2023).

JBS and child labour

  • There was extensive coverage in 2022 in the US about a JBS cleaning service subcontractor attracting huge fines for employing child labour in JBS and other processing plants in Nebraska and Minnesota. Children as young as thirteen were doing night shifts doing disgusting cleaning work in dangerous environments, using caustic cleaning chemicals and cleaning dangerous power-driven equipment, over three years (Source: Food Safety News, 15 November 2022, viewed online, 1 June 2023; and ABC News 18 February 2023, viewed online 1 June 2023).

JBS and Tasmanian abattoirs

  • On 10 September 2012 JBS announced closure of its King Island abattoir, which had received a $12million loan (since repaid) from the Tasmanian government (Source: Beef Central, 11 September 2012, viewed online 1 June 2023).
  • On 25 October 2012 JBS refused to sell or lease its vacant King Island abattoir to local producers (Source: ABC Rural News, 25 October 2012, viewed online 1 June 2023).
  • On 26 June 2013 JBS threatened to close its Longford abattoir if King Island opened competition (Source: Food and Beverage, 26 June 2013, viewed online 1 June 2023).
  • In October 2018 JBS announced the closure of its Devenport abattoir (Source: The Examiner, 22 October 2018, viewed online 1 June 2023).

And now the Tasmanian industry is fully foreign owned . . .

  • The Australia Institute has released an analysis of how very little tax the salmon industry pays, and points out that it will be increasingly hard to find these statistics. They also discuss how exaggerated and unsupported industry employment claims are. Read their analysis here.