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EXCLUSIVE-Brazil prosecutors charge 11 in criminal probe targeting BRF

Credit: REUTERS/RODOLFO BUHRER

Brazilian federal prosecutors on Wednesday formally charged 11 persons in connection with an ongoing criminal probe implicating food processor BRF SA in evading food safety checks, according to court filings seen by Reuters.

By Ana Mano

SAO PAULO, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Brazilian federal prosecutors on Wednesday formally charged 11 persons in connection with an ongoing criminal probe implicating food processor BRF SA BRFS3.SA in evading food safety checks, according to court filings seen by Reuters.

Of the 11 persons criminally charged, one still works as the company's director of agribusiness, according to the documents filed by prosecutors in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná.

A BRF spokeswoman said the individual identified as director of agribusiness by prosecutors is not currently an employee. The company did not have other immediate comments related to the new developments of the case.

BRF has previously said it has been cooperating with the probe.

The charges filed on Wednesday stem from a federal police investigation dubbed "Trickery," or "Trapaça" in Portuguese, which got underway in March 2018.

Investigators gathered evidence of falsification of documents between 2012 and 2018, and adulteration of ingredients in nutritional additive products for livestock feed, according to the filings.

The individuals named in the court documents, who include at least one former vice-president for quality, are accused of using banned substances and misrepresenting to regulators substances used in the manufacture of feed premix.

"In order to ensure that wrongdoing was not detected, the accused acted deliberately to deceive federal auditors by committing other frauds, such as the removal of stocks of substances used in the manufacturing of the premix and the manipulation of samples," the prosecutors said in the filing.

In most cases, the prosecutors said, the substances added to the feed and to the premix used by BRF were "potent antibiotics" whose use is normally restricted for the safety of consumers.

(Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Christian Plumb and Rosalba O'Brien)

((ana.mano@thomsonreuters.com; Tel: +55-11-5644-7704; Mob: +55-119-4470-4529; Reuters Messaging: ana.mano.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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