Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro indicted in Saudi jewelry scandal

By July 4, 2024

São Paulo, Brazil – Brazil’s Federal Police have indicted former President Jair Bolsonaro on charges of misappropriation of public assets, criminal association, and money laundering in connection with a scandal involving jewelry gifted to Brazil by Saudi Arabia during Bolsonaro’s presidency.

The investigation has also led to indictments against 11 other individuals, including former Minister of Mines and Energy Bento Albuquerque and Bolsonaro’s former personal aide, Army Lieutenant Colonel Mauro Cesar Barbosa Cid.

Among the gifts received from the Saudis was a set consisting of a white gold Rolex watch, a ring, cufflinks, and an Islamic rosary. These items, valued at $100,000 at the time, were presented to Bolsonaro during an official visit to Saudi Arabia in October 2019.

In October 2021, a Brazilian government delegation, led by the former Minister of Mines and Energy Bento Albuquerque, returned from Saudi Arabia with two other jewelry cases given to Bolsonaro and his wife by the Saudi regime. According to Brazilian law, items received as gifts from heads of state and government are considered state property, except for consumables such as food and beverages.

Jewelry received by Bolsonaro as a gift from the government of Saudi Arabia
(Brazilian Customs courtesy)

With the inquiry now concluded, the case will be referred to the Supreme Federal Court, where Justice Alexandre de Moraes has been assigned as the rapporteur.

Investigations reveal that Bolsonaro appropriated the jewelry, which was intended for the Brazilian government, and enlisted aides to sell some items in the United States.

In a plea deal, Lieutenant Colonel Mauro Cid revealed that Bolsonaro had asked him to have the jewelry appraised for future sale.

One such sale, uncovered by the Federal Police, took place on June 13, 2022, when the Rolex watch was sold in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, for $68,000.