Future Agriculture Minister Gave Tax Breaks And Did Business With Meat Processor At The Same Time

Tereza Cristina, then Agriculture secretary for the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, gave JBS tax breaks while keeping a business partnership with the company

Rubens Valente Catia Seabra
Brasília and São Paulo

The future Minister of Agriculture, Representative Tereza Cristina (DEM-MS), gave tax breaks and did business with meat processing company JBS at the same time. The representative leased land to JBS while she worked as secretary of agribusiness for the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

There are documents signed by Tereza Cristina in the JBS plea deal, which has already been accepted by the Brazilian Supreme Court. The papers mention state tax breaks, given in exchange of kickback in 2013, during governor André Puccinelli's office (MDB). Puccinelli was arrested last July on corruption charges.
According to the documents, the amount in kickbacks was R$ 150 million (US$ 40 million) throughout 13 years ending in 2016.    

Tereza Cristina Correa da Costa Dias will be Minister of Agriculture in the future Bolsonaro administration - AFP

In 2011 and 2012, Tereza Cristina did business with the Batista brothers, owners of JBS, as a private individual. She leased a family ranch in Terenos (MS) to JBS to raise livestock. The partnership didn't go well and currently, JBS has a lawsuit demanding R$ 14 million (US$ 3.75 million) from the future minister.

According to Tereza Cristina's attorney, the facts are not related. JBS preferred not to comment.

Asked to comment, president-elect Jair Bolsonaro dismissed Folha's findings: "I am also a defendant at the Supreme Court, so what?" he said, referring to a lawsuit for incitement of rape.

"After all, I am a human being, I can make mistakes, and if any minister of mine has a serious and proven accusation, we will do something about it. Right now, she has my complete trust," Bolsonaro said.

Translated by NATASHA MADOV

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