Former Brazil tycoon Batista leaves prison for house arrest

Former billionaire Eike Batista (C) leaves the Federal Police headquarters after giving a testimony in Rio de Janeiro

(Reuters) – Eike Batista, the mining and oil magnate who was once Brazil’s richest man, left prison Sunday for house arrest ahead of a trial on corruption charges.

Batista was jailed since Jan. 30 after spending four days in New York as a fugitive. He will stand trial along with an ex-Rio de Janeiro governor who allegedly took millions in bribes from the former billionaire.

Brazilian Supreme Court justice Gilmar Mendes on Friday ordered Batista’s release from jail, saying that the crimes the one-time tycoon faces did not involve violence or threats to others.

Federal prosecutors accuse Batista, former governor Sergio Cabral and seven others of facilitating graft and hiding illegal funds in offshore shell companies.

Five years ago, Batista, 60, had a net worth exceeding $30 billion and ranked among the world’s 10 richest people, according to Forbes.

Prosecutors allege Batista paid $16.5 million to the ex-Rio de Janeiro governor for his businesses to win lucrative government contracts.

(Reporting by Brad Brooks; Editing by Nick Zieminski)