RIO DE JANEIRO – A federal judge in Rio de Janeiro has sentenced Eike Batista, formerly one of the world’s wealthiest individuals, to 30 years in prison for bribery and money laundering, judicial officials said on Tuesday.
Marcelo Bretas handed down the sentence Monday, finding Batista guilty of paying $16.5 million in bribes between 2007-2014 to former Rio de Janeiro state Gov. Sergio Cabral to secure government contracts.
To hide the illegal payments, Batista used a “fictitious” contract that simulated the purchase of a gold mine in Colombia; the evidence showed that the other parties to that deal were serving as front men for Cabral, who is serving a prison sentence of more than 100 years for corruption and money laundering.
Monday’s sentence was the first handed down against the 60-year-old magnate, who at one time was ranked by Forbes magazine as the world’s eighth-wealthiest individual.
Between January and April of last year and prior to being released to house arrest while awaiting trial, he shared a 15-meter jail cell with six other men accused of financial crimes as part of the Car Wash investigation, a sprawling probe that was initially focused on a bribes-for-inflated-contracts scandal centered on state oil company Petrobras.
Bretas also handed Cabral a sentence of 22 years and eight months for accepting bribes, money laundering and tax evasion, while Cabral’s wife, Adiana Ancelma, was sentenced to four years and six months.
Batista, who once had a fortune estimated at $30 billion and a conglomerate comprising companies in oil, mining, shipbuilding and other sectors, suffered a spectacular fall from grace due to the plunge in global crude prices and risky business ventures.