UPDATE 1-Brazil meatpacker BRF admits to bribing food inspectors, shares drop

Ana Mano

(Adds details of police briefing, court document, share reaction)

SAO PAULO, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Brazilian meatpacker BRF SA has admitted to bribing food inspectors with bank deposits and health benefits and is cooperating with investigators in the latest phase of a corruption probe, federal police said on Tuesday.

Police said the latest developments were part of the fourth phase of the so-called Weak Flesh investigation, regarding some 19 million reais ($4.56 million) in illegal bribes by the company. BRF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shares in the company fell 1.5% in early Sao Paulo trading.

Prosecutors said in a court document seen by Reuters that BRF had begun collaborating with authorities on the probe in the second half of last year. Reuters reported in September 2018 that federal prosecutors were seeking cooperation from BRF in return for more lenient penalties.

However, police said on Tuesday that BRF's cooperation was not linked to any binding agreement regarding a potential leniency deal.

($1 = 4.1695 reais) (Reporting by Ana Mano Editing by Brad Haynes, David Evans and David Gregorio)