Batista Júniors appointment follows temporary suspension from office of Wesley Batista

Batista Júnior's appointment follows temporary suspension from office of Wesley Batista

José Batista Júnior has been appointed as interim president and CEO of Brazil-based meat giant JBS, after a court in the country ordered the temporary suspension from office of his predecessor, Wesley Batista, in connection with a police probe into reported allegations of fraud at a number of Brazilian pension funds.

JBS said Batista Júnior previously served as president of JBS for more than 20 years "and is profoundly knowledgeable of all the activities of the group".

In a related development, JBS has appointed José Batista Sobrinho, a board member and JBS founder, as chairman to replace Joesley Batista, who has also been temporarily suspended from office by order of the 10th district court of the federal capital Brasilia. 

Joesley Batista is the brother of Wesley Batista. JBS said both men had informed the company they intended to appeal against the court ruling.

Batista Júnior said: "I take on the role of president of JBS with a commitment to give continuity to the sustainable growth of the company. JBS has a robust global and regional business structure, with experienced senior executives and a solid corporate governance."

JBS said it will keep its shareholders "and the market in general informed of any future events".

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month there had been no indication JBS itself was involved in the alleged fraud. However, the holding company behind JBS, J&F Investimentos, does control a paper pulp company, Eldorado Brasil, that is one of the targets in the investigation, the WSJ reported. Joesley Batista is the CEO of J&F.

A spokesperson for J&F Investimentos told the WSJ on 5 September there had been no wrongdoing by Eldorado or the Batista brothers.

In January, J&F denied claims JBS group executives were linked to "crimes against the financial system" as shares in the Brazilian meat giant fell.

Last month, JBS filed registration requests with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in its next steps towards a corporate shake-up that will see it spin off its international businesses into an Ireland-based company – which in turn is expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.