When we last checked in on the Brazilian insider trading case against former billionaire Eike Batista, the case was, by all accounts, in "turmoil." As I discussed here, the criminal prosecution against Batista -- a landmark case that may make him the first person ever sent to prison in Brazil for insider trading -- was derailed in late February 2015 by the ongoing unusual conduct of the trial judge, Judge Flavio Roberto de Souza.
To recap, Judge Souza had already drawn the ire of Batista's lawyers in November 2014 when he told reporters following the trial's first hearing that Batista had "a megalomaniac dream of becoming the world's richest man. To see a person with that type of attitude sitting on the accused bench is really a historic moment."
Judge Souza followed that up in February 2015 by being seen driving Batista's white Porsche Cayenne that had been previously seized by authorities. Judge Souza explained that he was only doing so because the local police did not have a safe place for the car and he felt it was important to take the car to a covered parking space (in the building where he lived). This explanation did not satisfy Judge Souza's superiors, however, and he was promptly removed from the Batista case (and all of his other cases).
So how is it going lately in this landmark case? Surely nothing else bizarre has happened, right? Ha! The WSJ reports that on Monday of this week, a Brazilian appellate court announced that it had opened a criminal investigation into Judge Souza's conduct "based on evidence found during an administrative probe of the judge’s conduct."
What evidence might that be? Court officials revealed that in addition to Judge Souza driving around in Batista's Porsche, over $10,000 of Batista's seized cash is now missing. The court did not comment on whether Judge Souza was suspected of taking the money. Moreover, lawyers for Batista have now asserted that Judge Souza parked a second car belonging to Batista at the judge's home, and that Judge Souza also somehow managed to arrange for one of Batista's seized pianos to be delivered to the home of one of the judge's friends.
All of Judge Souza's decisions to date in the Batista's case -- which was slated to be an important and symbolic event in Brazil -- have now been annulled, the BBC reports. A retrial with a new judge is now expected.