Meat giant JBS has rebuffed allegations that it illegally purchased cattle in the state of Acre, Brazil.

Prosecutors have brought a civil lawsuit against the company, alleging that over the last four years, JBS purchased cattle from land in the Amazon that was illegally deforested and from farms linked to slavery.

However, JBS has insisted that all cattle purchased from Acre comply with its commitment to the mandates of the Brazilian Environmental Agency and the Ministry of Labour.

In a statement, JBS said that three different compliance checks are carried out during the purchasing process to ensure that it does not breach its social and environmental commitments.

"JBS' cattle sourcing has been proved to be correct and in compliance with legislation, as well as with the company's social and environmental commitments. All procedures are submitted twice a year to an external and independent audit hired exclusively for this purpose," the company said yesterday (20 April).

If found guilty in the civil suit, which was filed on 14 April, JBS could be required to pay fines totalling as much as BRL2bn (US$2.3bn). However, JBS dismissed this possibility, insisting: "Any discussion about a possible sentencing of the company to pay any fine is inapplicable."