Parts seized by the Federal Revenue were brought illegally by the government of former President Jair Bolsonaro
The former president’s government Jair Bolsonaro (PL) tried to bring diamond jewelry valued at BRL 16.5 million from Saudi Arabia to Brazil in 2021. The pieces were a gift from the Saudi government to the then First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro.
At the time, they were seized at Guarulhos airport, in São Paulo. They were in the backpack of an advisor to the then Minister Bento Albuquerque (Mines and Energy), who was part of the federal government’s entourage in the Middle East.
The case was reported by the newspaper The State of S. Paulo, on Friday (3.Mar.2023). After the report was published, Bolsonaro denied the illegality of the pieces. In addition to the former Chief Executive, Michelle also said she didn’t know she had the jewels.
The former head of the Special Secretariat for Social Communication in the Bolsonaro government, Fábio Wajngarten, also spoke out. On his Twitter profile, he published on Saturday (4.mar) a photo of craft by Marcelo da Silva Vieira, former head of the Assistant Cabinet for Historical Documentation, in which he says that the jewels would be sent to the presidential collection, and not retained by the Federal Revenue Service.
This Sunday afternoon (March 5), Wajngarten published documents referring to the case again. On his Twitter, the former head of the secretariat said it was a letter from the office of former minister Bento Albuquerque (Mines and Energy) to the special secretary of the Federal Revenue explaining about the seizure of the gift and requesting the release of the parts. “Everything transparent. The truth is coming outsaid Wajngarten on the social network.
O Power360 listed the letters released on the case so far:
- 6.Oct.2021: former president Bolsonaro sends a letter to prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud saying that he will not be able to participate in the launch of the Middle East Green initiative due to other pre-scheduled commitments, but that he would send the then Minister of Mines and Energy Bento Albuquerque. Here’s the full of the craft (252 KB);
- 8.Oct.2021: Albuquerque requests time off from the country to travel to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from October 20 to 26, 2021, to participate in the launch ceremony of the Green Middle East action. Here’s the full (52 KB);
- 15.Oct.2021: is published in GIVE (Official Gazette) a dispatch from the Presidency of the Republic authorizing Bento’s removal from the country to participate in the ceremony and hold meetings with authorities “homologous” and with business leaders in the energy sector. Here’s the full of dispatch (36 KB);
- 26.Oct.2021: the government entourage returns from Saudi Arabia and arrives in Brazil. The jewels, given as a gift by the Saudi government, were in the backpack of one of Bento’s advisors, Marcos André dos Santos, and were seized by the Federal Revenue at Guarulhos airport, in São Paulo. See below the images of the term of retention of goods from the Federal Revenue Service:
- 28.Oct.2021: the chief of staff of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, José Roberto Bueno Junior, sends a letter to Marcelo da Silva Vieira, assistant chief of staff for Historical Documentation in the personal office of the President of the Republic. The letter explains that the pieces are a gift from Saudi government authorities and claims to be “necessary and essential” let the set go to one “proper legal destination”. Here’s the full (73 KB).
- 29.Oct.2021: a receipt was issued showing that a box of items from the Swiss luxury brand Chopard was delivered to make up the personal collection of the Planalto Palace. The items, however, are not part of the jewelry set seized by the Federal Revenue Service. The receipt is in the name of Antônio Carlos Ramos de Barros Mello, special advisor to the Ministry of Mines and Energy. See an image of the receipt below:
- 3.Nov.2021: Marcelo da Silva Vieira responds to José Roberto Bueno Junior’s letter. In the document, Vieira says that the gifts received by Bento in Saudi Arabia should be sent to the collection. The letter was written on October 29th and sent on November 3rd. See below the images of the letter sent by Vieira in response to Bueno:
- 3.Nov.2021: José Roberto Bueno Junior, from the Ministry of Mines and Energy, sends a letter to Antonio Márcio de Oliveira Aguiar, chief of staff of the special secretary of the Federal Revenue Service. The text is similar to the letter sent by Bueno to Marcelo da Silva Vieira, from the Historical Documentation of the Presidency. In the document, the chief of staff mentions again that a “proper legal destination” it is necessary for jewelry. See the images below:
GOVERNMENT DID NOT FOLLOW PROCEDURES
Despite the letters sent to the Revenue Service and the Office of Historical Documentation of the Presidency, the Federal Revenue Service said on Saturday (4.Mar) that the Bolsonaro government did not regularize or present a request with justification to incorporate the jewels into the Union’s collection.
In a note, the agency stated that regularization is possible “upon proof of public ownership, and regularization of the customs situation. This did not happen in the case under analysis, even after guidance and clarifications provided by the Federal Revenue Service to government agencies”.
He further said that theincorporation into the Union’s heritage requires a request from the competent authority, justifying the need and appropriateness of the measure, such as the allocation of jewels of relevant cultural and historical value to be destined for a museum. That didn’t happen in this case. It is not possible to incorporate a good for the personal interest of anyone, only in case of effective public interest“.
The Federal Revenue activated the MPF (Federal Public Ministry) of Guarulhos, in São Paulo, to investigate the case. In a note, the body also informed that the facts were forwarded to the body and that it is available for “continue with the investigations, without prejudice to the collaboration with the Federal Police, already announced by the Minister of Justice”. read the full (696 KB).
Read more about the case:
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