Brazil Freezes $18,000 in Jair Bolsonaro’s Bank Accounts over Sanitary Mask Fine

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JUNE 12: President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro (C) rides a motorcycle alo
Rodrigo Paiva/Getty Images

The Justice Court of Brazil’s São Paulo State (TJSP) ordered a bank holding former President Jair Bolsonaro’s assets to freeze 87,400 Brazilian reais (roughly $18,000) in funds on Tuesday over his refusal to pay a fine for not wearing a sanitary mask in 2021.

Bolsonaro was fined by São Paulo’s Health Secretariat that year for not wearing a mask during three events in the towns of Miracatu, Ribeira, and Eldorado, located in the state’s Vale do Ribeira region. At the time, a São Paulo state decree issued in March 2020 mandated the wearing of sanitary masks in public spaces to prevent the spread of Wuhan coronavirus. The state rescinded the decree in March 2022.

Brazil’s government operates under a federal system where the president cannot overrule state ordinances that the nation’s courts do not rule unconstitutional.

“I grant the São Paulo State Treasury’s request and determine the unavailability of money on deposit or financial application of the executed, existing in the institutions linked to the Central Bank of Brazil, by blocking values up to the limit of the executed debt,” the order issued by Judge Ana Maria Brugin of São Paulo’s Court of State Tax Executions read. The order effectively froze assets only worth as much as the fine that Bolsonaro has refused to pay.

In January, the office of São Paulo’s Attorney General ordered the local government to execute the payment of three fines imposed on Bolsonaro for his refusal to wear a mask that totaled 431,000 Brazilian reais (nearly $89,000). Bolsonaro was given five days to issue the corresponding payments.

Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo, who accompanied his father at the offending events, was also fined in January for not complying with the mask mandates in 2021. He faces fines totaling 113,000 reais ($23,300).

Brazilian news network G1 reported in April that Bolsonaro’s unpaid fines had increased to more than 568,000 Brazilian reais ($117,270) due to interests and attorney fees, adding that the former president’s assets may be seized if he fails to pay the fines.

In a separate incident in June 2020, a Brazilian federal judge ordered the former president to wear masks in public spaces in the capital city of Brasília, issuing daily fines of approximately $386 for failing to do so.

Bolsonaro appealed the order, requesting that he be treated as any other resident of Brasília. The order was dismissed one week later. Federal Judge Daniele Maranhao Costa argued that the order specifying that Bolsonaro must wear a mask was not necessary, as the use of masks in the Brazilian capital was already mandatory for everyone in Brasilia at the time.

In August 2022, Brazil’s federal police requested authorization from the Federal Supreme Court to indict Bolsonaro, accusing him of having “disseminated false information” regarding coronavirus vaccines and allegedly discouraging the use of masks.

In May, federal police raided Bolsonaro’s home after the nation’s top court, the Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF), authorized a broad probe into Bolsonaro and his inner circle known as “Operation Venire” over allegations that the former president — who has repeatedly stated he would not ingest any coronavirus vaccination product — had falsified vaccination documents to travel to the United States in December, days before the end of his presidential term.

At the time of Bolsonaro’s visit, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) required all travelers entering into the United States to show proof of being fully vaccinated against coronavirus to enter the country. The CDC’s coronavirus vaccination requirements for foreign travelers are no longer in effect as of May 12.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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