Bento Albuquerque says he entered with jewelry without declaration – 03/14/2023 – Politics
In a statement to the Federal Police this Tuesday (14), former Minister of Mines and Energy Bento Albuquerque claimed to have entered the country upon returning from a trip in 2021 without declaring a case containing a watch and other men’s jewelry, objects he kept in his possession. ministry vault for seven months until he left the folder, in May last year. These articles were in his luggage.
Albuquerque said that he only opened this box after arriving in Brasilia. The case was a pair with another that was seized at customs at Guarulhos airport and that was found in the suitcase of his assistant, Marcos Soeiro — one of the three members of the official entourage returning from Saudi Arabia.
The former minister stated that, just as the R$16.5 million set of the Swiss brand Chopard was seized in his assistant’s suitcase, he “only assumed” that they were gifts for the former president and the first lady, since both they had been invited on the journey. Albuquerque said he went to the event representing the president. To the PF he said they were gifts for the Brazilian government, changing his initial version.
He reported having kept the alleged gifts for Jair Bolsonaro in the ministry’s safe while awaiting the outcome to be given by the Federal Revenue for the seizure of women’s jewelry valued at R$ 16.5 million and other alleged gifts given by the government of Saudi Arabia to Bolsonaro and then First Lady Michelle.
The case was revealed by the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo on the last day 3.
Even without an outcome, On the last November 29, practically a month after Bolsonaro’s term ended, the special advisor to the Ministry of Mines and Energy Antônio Carlos Ramos de Barros Mello delivered the items to the Planalto Palace.
At that time, the Ministry of Mines and Energy was already headed by Adolfo Sachsida, a friend of Bolsonaro and a former member of the team of the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes. Albuquerque left the portfolio in May of that year.
After reporting by Sheet regarding the delivery of the alleged gift to Bolsonaro, the Revenue Service stated that it had not been notified of the existence of this case and informed that it will take legal action regardless of the destination of the luxury objects.
The former minister told the PF delegates that, at the time of the arrest, he was called back by the head of his office in Rio de Janeiro, Marcos Soeiro, who was carrying the women’s jewelry and other gifts in his suitcase.
Albuquerque explained that the entourage –headed by him and which included Marcos Soeiro and Christian Vargas– received several gifts.
He stated that, when he came across the jewels, he assumed they were a gift for the first lady, since the entourage only carried gifts given to the Brazilian government.
The PF maintained that, even though it was a gift supposedly intended for the first lady, they were items intended for the Brazilian government.
The new version given by the minister was supported by the document he signed when the objects were seized at customs at Guarulhos airport. In it, Albuquerque declared that all objects given in Saudi Arabia were for the Brazilian government. He used the existence of recorded video to confirm his statement.
He said he went to Saudi Arabia representing then-president Bolsonaro.
The former minister also changed his version for the second case, which entered the country without a declaration.
A Sheet the ex-minister had stated that it had been shipped in the suitcase of another member, Cristian Vargas, an employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today appointed to be ambassador to Cuba.
For the PF, Albuquerque assumed he was carrying the box that entered without inspection. Commanded by Bento Albuquerque, the entourage traveled between October 20 and 26, 2021.
To the Federal Police, the former minister stated that the two packages were given by members of the Saudi government when the delegation was already leaving the hotel, in Riyadh.
The former minister stated that the two boxes were sealed and that no one suspected they were valuables since, during the event, several gifts were exchanged by the entourage.
Said to have received oils, dates and drinks. For that reason, he claimed to have kept the package sealed without knowing its contents.
The former minister stated that the two packages were distributed in suitcases and that they did not make the declarations because, supposedly, they did not think they would exceed US$ 1,000 – the maximum quota allowed by law for the entry of items free of declaration.