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Brazilian police refer ex-BRF executives to prosecutors in food probe

FILE PHOTO: A meatpacking company BRF SA's logo is pictured in Sao Paulo, Brazil March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo

By Ricardo Brito

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian police have referred two former executives of food processor BRF SA (BRFS3.SA) to federal prosecutors in an investigation into food safety that disrupted meat production in 2017, documents seen by Reuters showed on Monday.

The allegation is that former BRF Chairman Abilio Diniz and former Chief Executive Officer Pedro de Andrade Faria did not disclose damaging information when they were at the company.

According to the documents, among the evidence that police collected were a series of WhatsApp messages and emails exchanged between the two executives.

Diniz did not immediately respond to a request for comment and Faria declined to comment.

It will be up to federal prosecutors whether to file a complaint based on the police findings, whether to ask for additional investigation or whether to end the inquiry based on a lack of evidence for criminal charges.

Allegations have been made against 41 other people in the investigation known as "Weak Flesh." The scandal disrupted production and caused the temporary closure of export markets to certain Brazilian meat producers early in 2017.

In a statement, BRF said it had "zero tolerance" for unethical conduct and that it had suspended all persons mentioned in the police report while facts are clarified.

Diniz's asset management firm Península Participações said in a statement that Diniz "did not commit any infraction as chairman at BRF."

Diniz is now a board member at Carrefour SA (CARR.PA). Carrefour in Brazil (CRFB3.SA) declined to comment.

(Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Additional reporting by Gabriela Mello in Sao Paulo; Writing by Carolina Mandl and Gram Slattery; Editing by Grant McCool and Leslie Adler)