05/08/2014 – 09h35
On Wednesday an injunction was authorized by the 3rd Federal Court of Rio de Janeiro, effectively seizing US$ 55 million in assets belonging to the entrepreneur Eike Batista. Batista has the right to appeal the decision.
The injunction was requested by Rio’s Public Prosecutor’s Office, which is investigating, along with the Federal Police, the possible involvement of Batista in crimes against financial markets. The offences relate to his management of the company OGX.
The investigation is proceeding in secret. It is not known whether the Public Prosecutor’s Office requested the seizure of any of Batista’s other assets, beyond the block that has been placed on his bank accounts.
The decision means that any money deposited in Batista’s accounts automatically becomes property of the courts. Sources close to Batista say that his bank balance is not currently anywhere near the total value which has been blocked by the injunction.
In early 2012, Batista was the seventh richest man on the planet, with an estimated fortune of US$ 35 billion. Today, he is worth less than 10% of this figure.
The request for seizure of his assets had been considered by the Public Prosecutor’s Office for several days, but it was the news that Batista was moving his money around which ultimately triggered the decision.
On Sunday, Folha revealed that Batista gave two properties – his house in Jardim Botânico, an upmarket area of Rio, and a weekend property in Angra dos Reis further down the coast – to his two sons, Thor and Olin.
On the deeds that were passed to Thor and Olin the value of the properties, together, is US$ 8.4 million. However, an estimate made by an agent indicates that their true value is at least US$ 22.5 million.
Batista gave away the Rio property in June 2013, when he was renegotiating debts with creditors. In December, when he gave away the house at Angra, the oil company OGX and the shipbuilder OSX had both already filed for bankruptcy.
In a statement, the group EBX said it ‘had only informal notice of the decision by the 3rd Federal Court, not having received any official judicial communication.’
Ary Bergher, Batista’s lawyer, said that only after the content of the injunction is known will a decision be made regarding future action.