CORRECTED-Brazil prosecutors seek $1.32 bln in fines from dozens accused of crimes

BRASILIA (Reuters) – A task force of Brazilian public prosecutors said on Friday it is seeking to fine over a dozen people 5.3 billion reais ($1.3 billion) on accusations of fraud, money laundering and corruption involving an investment fund linked to prominent businessman Joesley Batista.

Batista, the biggest shareholder in meatpacker JBS SA , is not among the 14 people accused of crimes, the public prosecutors noted in a statement that said the criminal accusations are based on information gathered from plea deals, including one signed by Batista.

In a statement, Batista said he is “committed to collaborating with Brazilian authorities to fight corruption” since he signed a plea deal with prosecutors two years ago.

The Batista brothers have admitted to corruption crimes in exchange for not being prosecuted. U.S. authorities are also questioning the shareholders.

The case involves major contributions from pension funds of state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Petros, and Caixa Economica Federal’s Funcef to a timber investment and private equity fund without due diligence and risk analysis, the statement said.

(This story corrects that the allegations involve an investment fund linked to Joesley Batista, not meatpacker JBS SA)

Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Gabriela Mello; Editing by David Gregorio

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