Fri | Dec 9, 2016

Police seize assets of former Brazilian billionaire Batista

Published:Sunday | February 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM
FILE - In this November 18, 2014, file photo, former billionaire Eike Batista, a Brazilian tycoon once named No. 7 on Forbes' list of the world's richest people, attends a hearing at a federal criminal court in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

Federal police went after ex-billionaire Eike Batista on Friday, seizing a Lamborghini and six other cars, additional assets and US$32,500 (90,000 reals) in cash from the homes of Brazil's once-richest man.

A Federal Police statement said the assets seized by agents - which included computers, cell phones, watches and jewellery - would help guarantee potential compensation if Batista is convicted on charges of insider trading and market manipulation.

A federal judge last week froze more than US$1 billion (3 billion reals) worth of financial assets belonging to Batista, his sons, his ex-wife, and his girlfriend.

Batista has said he is innocent. His attorney was not immediately available for comment.

At his apex in 2012, Batista was reported to be worth US$34.5 billion and was listed at No. 7 on the Forbes billionaires list.

The case against the oil and mining tycoon is part of a new aggressive crackdown on corruption by Brazil's rich and powerful, long accustomed to impunity. The move comes amid an unravelling scandal at the state-run oil company Petrobras over kickbacks to politicians.

Batista faces two counts of insider trading and market manipulation charges in connection with the demise of OGX, the petroleum company that was the jewel in the crown of his business empire.

He faces a maximum prison sentence of 13 years, though as a first-time defendant, it is unlikely he would receive more than eight years if convicted on all charges.

Batista's personal life long has been fodder for celebrity scandal sheets as well. In 2013, his son Thor, then 21, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for running over a slum-dwelling cyclist while driving a Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren. He was sentenced to two years of community service, fined US$500,000 (1 million reals) and had his licence suspended.

The luxury sports car was the same model of a showcase car his father parked in the living room of the family's high-rise home.

- AP