Bolsonaro’s lawyer says it was a legal decision to keep a package of Saudi gifts

Former president Jair Bolsonaro received a package of gifts allegedly sent by the Saudi government and decided to keep them in his personal collection, in an action that his lawyer, Frederick Wassef, said was legal because they were “very personal” goods.

To CNN Brasil, Bolsonaro also confirmed that the second package was incorporated into his personal collection, without giving further details.

This was the former president’s first reaction coordinated with his lawyer to react to the case and which happens after a document from the presidency came to light that records the receipt of the Saudi shipment – the receipt appeared in press reports and its existence was confirmed by Reuters.

It is a second package of Saudi gifts that entered the country without due legal procedures, revealed Folha de S. Paulo. Last Friday, the State of S. Paulo had already reported that a first set of Saudi jewels, valued at 16.5 million reais, had been intercepted in Guarulhos by the Federal Revenue after an attempt to enter the country irregularly, remaining until the moment with the tax authorities.

The package of gifts received by Bolsonaro includes a pen, cufflinks, a ring and a type of rosary, all from the Swiss diamond brand Chopard, which was in the luggage of one of the members of the Brazilian delegation that met representatives of the Saudi government abroad in 2021 and who it was not intercepted by the Revenue on arrival in Brazil.

There has been no public assessment of the value of this lot.

In a note, lawyer Frederick Wassef said on Tuesday night that, acting within the law, Bolsonaro declared goods of a “very personal nature received on trips”, and there was no irregularity in his conduct.

“All acts and facts related to President Bolsonaro -contrary to what has been reported by the mainstream media- are in compliance with the law”, said Wassef at the demonstration, highlighting legislation from 1991 that deals with presidential collections and their regulation.

“They are taking certain information out of context, generating misunderstanding and confusion for the public. As there has never been any scandal or a single case of corruption during the 4 (four) years of Bolsonaro’s government, today they seek, at any cost, to create different narratives that do not correspond to the truth, in true political persecution of President Bolsonaro”, he reinforced.

Wasseff’s note is an indirect reference to the second gift package, but appears to make no mention of the batch intercepted by the IRS.

Documents revealed by the State of S. Paulo and by the former head of the Special Secretariat for Social Communication (Secom) Fábio Wajngarten show that Bolsonaro’s team tried to release the set stopped by the authorities in Guarulhos — necklace, ring, watch and a pair of diamond earrings, which would be a gift from the Saudi regime to first lady Michelle Bolsonaro.

The Saudi embassy did not respond to a request for comment.

In the main public demonstration on the case, before the revelation of the second package, Bolsonaro denied any illegality regarding these gifts.

“I am now being crucified for a gift I didn’t receive,” he said over the weekend. “I didn’t find out. Two, three days later, the Presidency notified the customs that it was to go to the collection. So far so good, no big deal. In my opinion, the customs could have delivered it. It would go to the collection, and it would be handed over to the first lady. What does the law say? She could use it, she couldn’t undo it,” he said when speaking to the press in Washington.

The former president traveled to the United States in December days before the end of his term.

Wassef’s note indicates the first demonstration to react legally to the case, which is being investigated by the Federal Revenue, Federal Police, Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office and Attorney General’s Office.

Leave a Comment