SÃO PAULO – Shareholders in JBS S.A. voted in favor of suing brothers Joesley and Wesley Batista for losses incurred after the Batistas confessed to bribing thousands of public officials.

In 2017, federal prosecutors in Brazil said Joesley and Wesley Batista authorized the sale of millions of JBS shares weeks before submitting evidence of bribes paid to nearly 2,000 Brazilian public officials, knowing that the disclosures would cause the company’s share price to fall. The revelations, secured under a plea agreement between prosecutors and the Batistas, sparked a sell-off on the Brazilian stock exchange. Prosecutors said the Batistas later repurchased the shares at a significantly lower price.

BNDESpar, the largest minority shareholder in JBS, is seeking relief for financial damage caused to JBS by controlling shareholders and others involved in the acts that were confessed as part of the plea deal.

As a result of the shareholder vote, JBS also would take legal action against Florisvaldo Caetano de Oliveira and Francisco de Assis e Silva, former members of JBS management.

The Batistas were banned from holding management positions in companies owned by J&F after federal prosecutors charged them with insider trading. However, a court in Brazil cleared the way for the Batista brothers to return to managing positions at J&F Investimentos, the parent company of JBS. Defense attorneys asked the court to lift the ban because the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic made the brothers’ return to management positions at J&F essential.