Bolsonaro wants TCU to hold the jewels pending a final ruling
Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Tuesday asked the Federal Court of Audit (TCU) to keep in its possession a set of jewels received as a gift from Saudi Arabia, Agencia Brasil reported.
Bolsonaro’s legal team Monday asked the TCU to receive and keep a kit containing a wristwatch, a pair of cufflinks, a pen, a ring, and a kind of rosary (a masbaha).
Such a petition was also notified to the Federal Police’s Financial Crimes Department to investigate whether members of Bolsonaro’s entourage that traveled to Saudi Arabia committed a crime by entering Brazil without declaring the jewelry at Customs.
The request for the court to hold the jewels until a final decision is reached seeks to prove that at no time did Bolsonaro intend to keep for himself property that could be regarded as public, the former president’s team of counselors headed by lawyer Paulo Amador da Cunha Bueno explained.
Although Bolsonaro had said that the objects had been incorporated into his private collection, it was not clear whether he had taken them with him when he left the Presidency of the Republic.
As Agência Brasil reported, documents indicate that on November 29, 2022, that is, more than a year after Albuquerque’s entourage brought the jewels to the country, a representative of the Ministry of Mines and Energy delivered the men’s kit to the Adjunct Office of Historical Documentation, a body of the Presidency of the Republic responsible for, among other activities, analyzing the gifts received by Brazilian authorities and saying whether they are objects for personal use or intended for the Brazilian State because of their historical, cultural, and financial value.
Last Friday, the Public Ministry to the Court of Audit of the Union (MPTCU) requested that Bolsonaro be required to return the men’s jewels to the Union after TCU Justice Augusto Nardes had appointed Bolsonaro as a trustee of the items pending a final decision.
The men’s jewels were brought into the country in October 2021, by then Minister of Mines and Energy Bento Albuquerque and two ministerial aides who accompanied him to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Albuquerque, the former head of the ministry’s Special Advisory for International Relations, Christian Vargas, and the former head of the ministry’s Representative Office in Rio de Janeiro, Marcos André Soeiro, traveled on an official mission to participate in a series of events in which they met with Saudi businessmen and public authorities, including the Prince Regent, Mohammed bin Salman.
According to Albuquerque, near the end of the trip, as usual, his interlocutors presented him with two boxes that neither he nor his two advisors opened to check their contents.
When they landed at Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo, Albuquerque and Soeiro informed the IRS that they had no valuables to declare. Soeiro, however, was randomly selected to have his luggage inspected. It was then that the Customs agent found one of the two boxes, containing women’s jewelry (a necklace, a ring, a watch, and a pair of diamond earrings) valued at about € 3 million. Recently aired by TV Globo, the video contains audio of Albuquerque himself explaining that the jewelry was a gift that ”will go in there for the first lady [Michelle Bolsonaro].
Since Soeiro and Albuquerque had reported having nothing to declare to the customs authorities, the customs agents followed the law, seizing the set of women’s jewelry. According to the IRS, every traveler arriving in Brazil must declare personal property whose value exceeds US$ 1,000. Public agents, on the other hand, must declare goods that are not for personal use as belonging to the Brazilian State.
(Source: Agencia Brasil)