Brazil’s former president has denied trying to smuggle in GBP 2.5 million of jewellery gifted to him and his wife by Saudi Arabia.
Jair Bolsonaro, 67 – president from 2019 to 2022 – has been accused by Brazilian media of trying to bring in the Chopard gems without declaring them to customs.
The jewellery – a necklace, ring, watch and diamond earrings – was a gift from the Saudi government to Bolsonaro and his First Lady wife Michelle in 2021.
The gems were found by officials – reports O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper – in the backpack of a government aide as the party returned from the Gulf State.
But Bolsonaro – on holiday in the USA – has denied any wrongdoing.
He said in an interview with CNN Brasil: “I’m being accused of a gift I neither asked for nor received.”
The former head of state went on: “There is no illegality on my part. I never committed illegal acts.”
The undeclared items were seized at Sao Paulo International Airport, where customs agents found them in October 2021.
Bolsonaro’s former communications chief claimed the jewellery was in a sealed box and no one knew of its contents until it was opened at customs.
Bolsonaro allegedly made at least four attempts to get the gifts into Brazil in the last months of his tenure – but to no avail.
The only way to get it back would be to pay the mandatory import tax of 50 per cent of its value and a fine of 25 per cent for failing to report the item.
Otherwise, they would have to be declared “official gifts” to the president.
But then the gems would belong to the Brazilian state and not personally to the Bolsonaros.
Authorities are now investigating whether Bolsonaro tried to smuggle the valuables to avoid taxes or to prevent them from entering the presidency’s public collection.
The current Minister of Communications of the Presidency, Paulo Pimenta, said in a statement obtained by Newsflash: “This report brings appalling details that reveal how the scheme of kickbacks, gifts and illegal advantages of Bolsonaro family members and close advisors worked.
“Everyone deserves to be investigated and punished for the crimes committed.”
Bolsonaro boasted that he was unlike previous presidents by claiming he had “not spent a single cent” of the president’s credit during his tenure.
But it was later revealed that he had used the state credit card for his own personal expenses, local media reports.
Bolsonaro, who is currently vacationing in Florida, could be forced to return to his country if he does not come back voluntarily by the end of March.
He is being investigated in several cases, including his alleged involvement in the 8th January anti-government riots after he lost the elections.
The Ananova page is created by and dedicated to professional, independent freelance journalists. It is a place for us to showcase our work. When our news is sold to our media partners, we will include the link here.