Bolsonaro denies any “illegality” in the case of the jewels offered by Saudi Arabia
Ex-Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro denied on Saturday that he was “illegal” after local media reported that he had tried to smuggle into his country glitzy jewelry donated by Saudi Arabia in 2021.
Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo wrote on Friday that a Bolsonaro government convoy attempted in October 2021 to smuggle jewelry into the country that had not been declared at customs.
The set, worth $3.2 million, was a gift from the Saudi government to the former president's wife, Michelle Bolsonaro.
In detail, a necklace, a ring, a watch and a pair of earrings were discovered during a search at Guarulhos airport, Sao Paulo. The jewels were thus found in the backpack of an adviser to the Minister of Mines and Energy at the time, who was returning from an official trip to the Middle East.
N' Having not been declared to customs, the jewels were seized by the agents, the Brazilian law providing that goods with a value greater than one thousand dollars must be declared, and that customs duties apply to the goods. Brazilian customs have since kept the adornment.
However, if the jewels had been declared as an official gift to the State, they would have belonged to the Brazilian State even after the end of Mr. Bolsonaro's mandate.
“I am accused of 'a gift I neither asked for nor received,' the former far-right leader said in an interview quoted by CNN.
Jair Bolsonaro said he didn't know the value jewels nor that they were intended for the presidential treasury.
Minister of Justice Flávio Dino assured Friday that he would ask the federal police to open an investigation on Monday.
“Facts related to the jewellery, which may constitute crimes of smuggling, embezzlement and money laundering, among others (…) will be officially brought to the attention of the police”, wrote the minister on Twitter.
According to the same Brazilian newspaper, Mr. Bolsonaro's administration has tried several times, without success, to get customs to hand him over jewelry.