A member of the Federal Accounts Court, a kind of audit tribunal that operates under the umbrella of Congress, has ruled that former President Jair Bolsonaro and one of his former cabinet ministers must testify in a case involving a smuggling attempt by members of his now-defunct administration.
A week ago, the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo revealed that a Brazilian delegation led by then-Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque returned from Saudi Arabia in October 2021 with a case containing a necklace, a watch, a pair of earrings, and a ring, as well as a gold horse sculpture about 30 centimeters long. The jewelry case alone was valued at more than USD 3 million.
Although one jewelry case was confiscated by customs at the São Paulo-Guarulhos airport, Mr. Bolsonaro received a second case from luxury watchmaker Chopard, also donated by the Saudi government, valued at approximately USD 76,000. This second case was stored at the Mines and Energy Ministry for more than a year and handed over to Mr. Bolsonaro in late November 2022, after he lost his re-election bid.
After the more valuable case was seized by customs, the Bolsonaro administration made several unsuccessful attempts to retrieve the jewels back. Video footage shows that on December 29, at the very end of Mr. Bolsonaro’s term, a Navy sergeant and presidential aide made a final attempt to retrieve the jewels, claiming that “nothing can be left” to the next government after the transition — a clear indication that the outgoing president did not intend for the gifts to be kept by the Brazilian state.
Minister Augusto Nardes of the Federal Accounts Court also ruled that Mr. Bolsonaro must keep the jewelry he has already received, and cannot wear or sell them.
Jair Bolsonaro left Brazil on the second-to-last day of his term to avoid attending Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s swearing-in ceremony on January 1. He has since been living in Florida.