Brazilian tycoon Batista faces insider trading probes
By Jeb Blount and Juliana Schincariol
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Eike Batista, who was Brazil's richest man for most of the past decade, is under investigation for allegedly engaging in insider trading while he chaired his now-bankrupt oil-producing and shipbuilding firms, securities industry watchdog CVM said on Friday.
In a statement sent to Reuters, Rio de Janeiro-based CVM confirmed that Batista is a respondent in six of nine probes that executives of his Grupo EBX conglomerate are facing for breaching securities rules. In two of them, regulators are examining whether Batista allegedly took advantage of his access to privileged information.
CVM also listed a dozen probes questioning financial and other data unveiled by oil company Óleo and Gás Participações SA, formerly known as OGX, and four more firms he controlled through EBX. If the probes lead to criminal charges against Batista, it would be yet another major blow to a businessman once hailed as Brazil's model entrepreneur and a symbol of its economic success.
"If this turns out to be true it will be excellent news for investors who lost so much with OGX," said Rodrigo Bornholdt, a partner with Bornholdt Advogados in Joinville, Brazil, which has been organizing minority shareholders for a lawsuit against OGX. "This would make it much easier for them to sue Batista, the corporate directors and the company."
The demise of his energy, logistics and mining empire, which two years ago was valued at about $60 billion, ended up in OGX filing in October for Latin America's largest bankruptcy.
Under CVM regulations, Batista could face fines and be banned from running a listed company. But he could also face criminal prosecution - which could put him in jail for as many as five years - and separate civil penalties if individual investors and companies sue him for damages, Bornholdt added.
EBX, speaking on behalf of Batista, issued a statement denying any wrongdoing. Batista did not make use of privileged information or act in bad faith, the statement said, adding that he will explain his decisions to the CVM.
Representatives for Oleo and Gas and OSX declined to comment. Continued...