Bolsonaro indicted by Brazil's Federal Police in the Saudi jewelry case

The Attorney General's Office will analyze and decide whether or not to denounce Bolsonaro to the Supreme Court

Translated by: Ana Paula Rocha

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo |
Bolsonaro may still be indicted for a coup attempt as part of the digital militias inquiry - Mauro Pimentel/AFP

On Thursday (4), Brazil’s Federal Police indicted former President Jair Bolsonaro (Liberal Party) in the case investigating the appropriation and sale in the United States of million-dollar jewelry gifted by Saudi Arabia.

Now, the Attorney General’s Office (PGR, in Portuguese) will analyze the report and decide whether or not to denounce the former president to the Supreme Court. According to the Federal Police, Bolsonaro allegedly committed the crime of embezzlement, that is, taking public property, as well as money laundering and criminal association. There is no arrest request in the indictment.

The former president has always declared himself innocent. According to the Brazilian website G1, Bolsonaro's lawyer Paulo Cunha Bueno said that, by now, he would not comment on the case because he did not access the Federal Police documents.

In addition to Bolsonaro, 11 other people have been indicted, including Bento Albuquerque, Bolsonaro's former Minister of Mines and Energy; Mauro Cesar Barbosa Cid, Bolsonaro's former aide; his father, Mauro Cesar Lourena Cid, a general in the Army Reserve; Fabio Wajngarten, Bolsonaro's lawyer and former Secretary of Communication; lawyer Frederick Wassef, among other people, all of them close to the former president.

The Federal Police report will probably be sent to Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, the case's rapporteur, who will forward it to the Attorney General’s Office. In turn, the Attorney General's Office will decide whether or not to prosecute the case.

The case

Regarding the jewelry case, the report sent to the Attorney General's Office points out that an operation was set up in the Planalto Palace to circumvent the registration of gifts from foreign delegations so that they could be sold illegally with the former president's approval. The money obtained from the illegal sale of official gifts may have exceeded BRL 1 million (US$ 182,000).

The money obtained from the sales was "converted into cash and entered into the personal assets of the people under investigation, through intermediaries and without using the formal banking system. The aim was to conceal the origin, location and ownership of the amounts", according to the Federal Police. 

Among the gifts sold illegally was a Patek Philippe watch, which was allegedly given by Bahraini authorities in 2021. The object was allegedly sold by Mauro Cid on June 13, 2022, in a store in Pennsylvania, United States. "The watch, that other kit, is going to be auctioned on February 7. Then we'll see how much they'll pay," Mauro Cid said in a message sent to Marcelo Câmara, Bolsonaro's former advisor, according to audio found by the Federal Police.

The watch isn’t listed in the official records of the Planalto Palace, according to the Federal Police report. "No record of the Patek Philippe watch [in the presidential collection] was identified, which indicates the possibility that the asset did not even go to the then Deputy Office of Historical Documentation, being diverted directly to former president Jair Bolsonaro," says the Federal Police report.

On the watch's certificate of authenticity, which was received by Bolsonaro from the hands of Mauro Cid, the watch is estimated at approximately US$ 51,000. Through the location records of the app Waze and the connection to the establishment's wi-fi, the investigation concluded that Mauro Cid was in the store.

Along with the Patek Philippe, a Rolex Day-Date, part of the so-called "White Gold kit", was also sold on the same occasion. The jewelry reached US$ 68,000. "The evidence collected indicates that Mauro Cid, after leaving the presidential entourage on June 13, 2022, traveled from Miami to the city of Willow Grove, in the state of Pennsylvania. In the city, he went to the headquarters of the Precision Watches store and sold the Rolex Day-Date watch, which was part of the so-called 'White Gold kit'", given by Saudi Arabia.

After Brazil’s General Accounting Office (TCU, in Portuguese) ordered the return of the White Gold kit in March last year, Frederick Wassef traveled to Pennsylvania in March this year and bought back the Rolex. "I went to the United States and bought the Rolex. It wasn't Jair Messias Bolsonaro who asked me to do it. My client Jair Bolsonaro has nothing to do with this conduct, which is mine, and I take responsibility. I did it, I assume responsibility for it. I bought it," he said at a press conference in August last year.


On social media, the former president's eldest son, Senator Flávio Bolsonaro, said that "the persecution of Bolsonaro is obvious and shameless!" and the actions questioned by the Federal Police "caused no damage to the Treasury."

Also indicted, Fábio Wajngarten posted on X that the Federal Police’s action was "arbitrary, unjust and persecutory." "As a lawyer, I was indicted because of the exercise of my prerogative. I defended a client, and throughout the investigation, there was no evidence against me," he said.

The president of the Workers' Party (PT, in Portuguese), Congresswoman Gleisi Hoffman, posted a message stating that "this is just one of the many actions he [Bolsonaro] will have to account for due to the crimes he committed against the country and against the mandate to which he was elected."

Edited by: Nicolau Soares