Brazil probes U.S. firm over Amazon River port project

Brazil probes U.S. firm over Amazon River port project


Brazilian federal prosecutors are investigating transactions involving grains trader Cargill and a Brazilian partner after they found irregularities in the acquisition of disputed land where the U.S. company plans to build a massive river port in the Amazon rainforest.

A spokesperson for the federal prosecutors’ office in Para State said they opened the criminal investigation after two prosecutors drafted a July memo questioning the legality of the transaction due to suspected anomalies in the paperwork. The progress of the criminal probe remains confidential.

“The chain of ownership of private land transfers, presented by the companies to substantiate the legality of the purchase and sale showed signs of being completely precarious and lacking minimum requirements to be considered legal,” wrote prosecutors in the memo reported by a news website Sumauma.

A Cargill spokesperson, however, said that the company obtained legal use and possession of a plot of land in Abaetetuba, Para State, where it is evaluating the feasibility of building a grain export terminal.

Recall that in 2017, Cargill announced plans to invest in a new $178 million port at Abaetetuba, where it aims to eventually move some 9 million metric tons of grains annually from barges to cargo ships for export.

However, families in the area where Cargill plans to build the port said a federal land reform agency set aside part of the land for them in 2005, denominating it the Santo Afonso Agroextractivist Settlement Area, according to court documents.

Cargill, which runs three other river ports in the Amazon, said its environmental impact studies for the port are awaiting analysis by state environmental officials for a preliminary license.

“We have not and will not build a terminal until all required permits are in place and we have consulted with local communities,” Cargill said.

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