Why a Saudi jewellery scandal may complicate Bolsonaro’s return to Brazil

Jair Bolsonaro fled Brazil whereas he was nonetheless the nation’s president (2019-2023). On December 30, he took a flight to the United States to keep away from, two days later, having handy over the presidential sash to his rival and successor, Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva. Since then, the far-right chief has remained in Florida and, in accordance with what he introduced this week, his hypothetical return may happen on March 29, though it’s going to rely upon “the state of affairs in Brazil.”

His return won’t be simple. The assault of his followers on the headquarters of the three powers of the nation (Congress, Supreme Court and the Presidency) on January 8, is added to the current scandal of Saudi jewels. This case got here to mild on March 3 due to an investigation by the newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo, however the information date again to October 2021. Saudi Arabia gave the then first woman of Brazil, Michelle Bolsonaro, valued jewels in 3.2 million {dollars}, throughout an official journey.

The Bolsonaro couple in Brasilia, in December 2021. Andressa Anholete / Getty

The Bolsonaro authorities tried to smuggle the jewellery into Brazil, the place it’s obligatory to declare all property over $1,000. The set of jewels (a necklace, a hoop, a watch and diamond earrings from the unique Swiss model Chopard) was intercepted throughout a customs management. An adviser to the entourage carried the jewels in a backpack and the Treasury, the physique chargeable for the nation’s customs, seized them on the Guarulhos worldwide airport in Sao Paulo.

Bolsonaro tried as much as eight occasions to get better the precious reward earlier than the top of his time period on January 1, however was unsuccessful. The Brazilian newspaper that uncovered the scandal revealed that there was a second package deal of jewels, made up of a watch, a pen and a hoop, additionally from Chopard and for the president himself, which was not declared at customs both, however which did handle to enter the nation.

Five days to ship the presents

The plenary of the Court of Accounts of the Union of Brazil gave the previous president a interval of 5 days final Wednesday to ship all of the presents he obtained between 2019 and 2022, together with the opposite package deal of knickknack reward from the Saudi monarchy and a recreation of arms that he obtained on the identical journey. Heads of State can solely hold these presents, in accordance with the Court, supposed for “very private” use and of “little financial worth”, resembling “a crew shirt, fragrance, or a handkerchief”. If the 2 necessities are usually not met, the vacation spot of the presents is the gathering of the Palacio do Planalto.

The Federal Police of Brazil opened an investigation to make clear “the irregular entry” of the presents. The investigation will probably be processed “below judicial secrecy” and will probably be carried out in parallel to a different opened by the Treasury, the Federal Police mentioned in a notice launched this week.

Bolsonaro with the governor of the Riyadh province through the controversial journey in October 2021. EP

“A private reward, not for the State”

Last Tuesday, the previous Minister of Mines and Energy, Bento Alburquerque, declared that they at all times believed that the jewels that Bolsonaro obtained from the Saudi royal household had been a private reward and never for the State. Albuquerque defined that the Brazilian diplomatic delegation obtained two bins wrapped with wax seals and marked with the Saudi Arabian coat of arms throughout a dinner with officers from that nation.

One of the bins was not opened till the diplomatic delegation arrived in Brazil. Always in accordance with the protection, one of many bins was delivered to Albuquerque, whereas the opposite was delivered to Marcos Soeiro, assistant to the previous minister, who was subsequently seized on the airport.

The Federal Police additionally needs to query Bolsonaro, his spouse and his advisers. The former president has already denied any “illegality.” For now, from the United States. Brazilian justice can be investigating what his function was within the assault on the headquarters of the three powers. We will see if Bolsonaro doesn’t lengthen, once more, his avoid his nation.