Bolsonaro will hand over to the authorities $3.2 million worth of jewelry given to him by Saudi Arabia
- 2023-03-15 18:41:53
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Jair Bolsonaro is accused of bringing millions of euros of jewelry donated to him by Saudi Arabia into Brazil, which contributed to exposing the former president to a wave of criticism.
Here's what is known about the scandal involving the former far-right leader.
The latter is following this issue from a distance from the United States, but he intends to return soon to Brazil, which he left at the end of December, just before the return of Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, his leftist successor to power.
Bento Albuquerque, the former Minister of Mines and Energy under Jair Bolsonaro, said that a Saudi government "envoy" handed his delegation two packages at the end of an official visit to Riyadh, in which the former president did not participate, in October 2021.
Upon the delegation's arrival at Guarulhos International Airport near Sao Paulo, customs found one of the two parcels in the backpack of one of the minister's assistants, according to the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper, which revealed the case.
This parcel, which contained a set of diamonds, was confiscated because it had not been previously declared.
According to the newspaper, senior officials in Bolsonaro's government have tried at least eight times to recover the jewelry by putting pressure on the customs authorities.
The last attempt was made at the end of December, three days before the end of the far-right president's term, when a Navy officer sent to Guarulhos tried unsuccessfully to convince the customs service to take back the diamond set. The jewelry is currently kept in a safe at the airport.
The other package entered Brazil without being inspected by the customs authority and is in the possession of Jair Bolsonaro, who confirmed to CNN Brazil that he had not committed "any illegal act".
The two parcels contained jewelry from the Swiss luxury brand Chopard.
The package that was seized is a set of diamonds with a necklace, ring, watch and earrings, with a total value estimated at three million euros.
In a conversation with customs officers recorded by a surveillance camera - the content of which was revealed by TV Globo - Minister Albuquerque explained that these jewels are a gift to First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro.
The second parcel was a metaphor for men's jewelry - a watch, cufflinks and a fountain pen, with an estimated value of at least 70,000 euros, according to Brazilian media.
Federal police and tax authorities have opened separate investigations.
According to Brazilian law, any item worth more than $1,000 must be declared to customs before entering the country.
The owner of the commodity must then pay an import tax, in a value equivalent to half of the amount that exceeds one thousand dollars. If the item is not declared, a heavy fine must be paid.
Jewelry could be brought into Brazil legally without having to pay any taxes if it was declared an official gift to the Brazilian state.
But in this case, these gifts will be included in the official collection of the presidency and not the Bolsonaro couple in their personal capacity. Members of the government, including the president of the republic, have absolutely no right to accept gifts of great value. High-ranking officials are aware of this rule from other countries on a personal basis," Isaac Falcao, president of Sindifisco, the federation that represents Brazilian tax officials, told AFP.
The Brazilian financial institution asked Jair Bolsonaro to provide clarifications about these jewelry and prevented him from wearing or selling those in his possession.
According to several media outlets, the defense team of the former president told the authorities on Monday that his client would hand over the men's jewelry to the Brazilian financial institution.
The scandal has been making Brazilian headlines regularly for the past two weeks, bad timing for Jair Bolsonaro, who is preparing to return from Florida to take on the role of leader of the opposition.
There has been no official reaction from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman yet.