Brazil’s federal treasury announced Monday that it will investigate a second deal of jewelry made by Saudi Arabia to former President Jair Bolsonaro, which could have been brought infrequently into Brazil by members of the far-right government.
The body responsible for customs said in a note that it would “take appropriate measures” to “clarify and comply with the legislation” and “know the destination of the goods”, following the new information published by Brazilian newspapers.
The O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper revealed that the Bolsonaro government illegally attempted to enter the country’s jewelry worth 16.5 million riyals ($3.2 million) that the Saudi authorities had presented to then First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro, in October 2021.
They were confiscated by the Treasury Department at Guarulhos International Airport, in Sao Paulo, after they were found in the backpack of an adviser to the entourage of Minister of Mines and Energy in Bolsonaro’s government, Bento Albuquerque, and they were not made public.
Bolsonaro tried eight times to release these exclusive gifts before ending his term on January 1, but was unsuccessful. However, according to O Globo, a second package of jewelry consisting of a watch, a pen and a ring from the Swiss brand Chopard, according to O Globo, appears to have gone through customs without being declared.
Chancellor Albuquerque confirmed to O Estado de Sao Paulo the existence of this second bundle of jewelry that was, like the first, a gift from the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Bolsonaros, although today the former minister confirms that he does not remember who transported it. “When we got to Brasilia, we opened the other package, which had a watch in it, it was a watch box; I don’t know if there was some other stuff. It was a gift. So we prepared a document, we sent it the Treasury or the Federal Heritage Service.. I don’t know; whoever did it was the Council of Ministers (Ministry),” Albuquerque told the newspaper.
Monday’s Treasury Department noted in the statement that this second package “can only be brought” into the country “by another traveler,” different from the inspected package that resulted in the confiscation of the first jewels, valued at $3.2 million, it added. that “the fact could theoretically constitute a violation of customs legislation by the other traveler, for failure to declare and collect taxes.”
Bolsonaro, who has been in the United States since last December, has denied any “illegality” in this regard, while the current Minister of Justice, Flavio Dino, has ordered the Federal Police to investigate the matter.
Under Brazilian law, the jewelry would have been acquired by the government if it had been declared an “official gift”, although in that case it would still have been the property of the Brazilian state.
Since their personal property had been declared, the only way to recover it was to pay import tax, which amounted to 50 percent of the property seized, and a fine of more than 25 percent for attempting to bring it in irregularly.