JBS, the Brazilian protein giant, has insisted it “strongly denies” reports linking it to a corruption investigation being carried out by the Brazilian Federal Police, operation “Lava-Jato”.

Shares in the group plunged 8.67% to close at BRL11.16 yesterday (22 December) after a report in Brazilian newspaper Valor Econômico linked payments made by JBS to one of Brazil’s largest anti-corruption probes.

According to the report, JBS made four payments totalling BRL800,000 (US$3,007,970) to Gilson M. Ferreira Transportes, a shell company being investigated as part of a money laundering and corruption investigation into the dealings of energy firm Petróleo Brasileiro.

JBS stated: “The company further clarifies that the payments mentioned by Valor are related to the purchase agreement of a processing facility in Ponta Porã (MS), a distribution centre in São José dos Pinhais (PR) and another distribution centre in Itajaí (SC), whose sellers were Tiroleza Alimentos Ltda., Ademar Marquetti de Souza, Paulo Roberto Sanches Cervieri and Rodo GS Transportes e Logística Ltda.

“Payments referring to these acquisitions were made through bank accounts indicated by the sellers and in 2012 Rodo GS instructed JBS to use certain bank accounts that are, according to the news, currently being investigated by the federal police.”

The company added that “all payments” were made “in commence with the agreement signed by parties involved in the transaction” and were “in compliance with the effective legislation”.

“The company has all the necessary documentation to support the veracity of the above mentioned,” JBS stressed.