Brazilian judge authorizes release of ex-magnate Batista

Brazil Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes said while businessman Eike Batista's (C) alleged crimes were serious, they did not warrant being jailed during legal proceedings

Fallen tycoon Eike Batista, who rose to become Brazil's wealthiest man before surrendering to face corruption charges, may be released from prison while awaiting his trial.

Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes ruled Friday that though Batista's alleged crimes were serious, they did not warrant custody during legal proceedings.

The 60-year-old former oil and mining magnate is alleged to have paid a $16.5 million bribe to ex-Rio de Janeiro state governor Sergio Cabral, already behind bars for allegedly taking bribes over World Cup and Olympics infrastructure projects.

His downfall represented a new landmark in a series of sprawling but interconnected corruption scandals enveloping much of Brazil's elite.

He was incarcerated on January 30 after giving himself up to authorities.

He was sent first to the Ary Franco prison in Rio, which like many in Brazil is seriously overcrowded, before transferring to the much bigger Bangu complex.

Unlike many other white collar crime suspects, Batista dropped out of university. He therefore was unable to benefit from a law that puts higher education graduates in better conditions.

A former speedboat racer who reached seventh place on Forbes magazine's rich list in 2012, Batista was said to be worth $30 billion in 2011.

His fortune largely evaporated when his oil company OGX collapsed in 2013.