Vice-president affirms that “reality trumps fiction”; Saudi gift seized at the Federal Revenue is valued at R$ 16.5 million

Vice President Geraldo Alckmin (PSB) said on Monday (13.Mar.2023) that the case in which former President Jair Bolsonaro’s (PL) assistants tried to enter the country with a set of jewelry worth R$16.5 million given by Saudi Arabia is a “barbarity”.

“It’s a business where reality trumps fiction”declared Alckmin to journalists on the way out of an FNP (National Front of Mayors) event in Brasília.

understand the case

newspaper report The State of São Paulo revealed last Friday (March 3, 2023) that the government of former President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) would have tried to bring jewelry to Brazil without declaring it to the Federal Revenue Service. The pieces, valued at BRL 16.5 millionwould be a gift from the government of Saudi Arabia to the then first lady Michelle Bolsonaro.

The set consisted of a necklace, ring, watch and diamond earrings with a certificate of authenticity from Chopard, the Swiss brand of luxury accessories.

The pieces were seized at the 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, in October 2021.

The legislation determines that assets exceeding the value of US$ 1,000 must be declared. In this case, Bolsonaro would have to pay import tax equivalent to 50% of the value of the product and a fine equal to 25% of the total seized item – a total of R$ 12 million.

To enter the country without paying the tax, it was necessary to say that it was an official gift for the First Lady and the President of the Republic. In this way, the jewels would be destined to the Union’s assets.

According to the report, the former head of the Executive tried to recover the jewels another 8 times, using Itamaraty and officials from the Ministry of Mines and Energy and even the Navy, but failed.

Bolsonaro denied the illegality of the pieces and said he was being accused of a gift he neither asked for nor received. Michelle also said she was unaware of the set.

After the publication of the newspaper report The State of São Paulo who revealed the case, the former head of the Special Secretariat for Social Communication in the Bolsonaro government, Fabio Wajngarten, published a series of documents and stated that the jewels would go to the presidential collection.

Despite the letters released by Wajngarten, the Federal Revenue said on Saturday (4.mar) that the Bolsonaro government had not followed the necessary procedures to incorporate the pieces into the Union’s collection.

On Tuesday (March 7), the PF (Federal Police) had access to a document showing the 2nd package of jewels coming from Saudi Arabia listed as the former president’s private collection. The new document contradicts Bolsonaro’s version, which claimed that the jewelry donated by the Saudi government would be sent to the Union’s collection.

With the PF statement, Bolsonaro confirmed that the 2nd jewelry box of the Swiss luxury brand Chopard was listed as a personal collection. However, the former president continued to deny the illegality of the pieces.


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