BRASILIA – A representative of Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday handed a set of diamond jewelry he received during his presidency over to a state bank, as ordered by a government watchdog amid an investigation into the gifts.
Federal police and prosecutors are investigating whether the goods brought into the country from Saudi Arabia were public gifts that Bolsonaro improperly tried to prevent from being incorporated into the presidency’s public collection, or private gifts that Bolsonaro tried sneak into Brazil without paying taxes.
The Senate’s transparency commission also is investigating whether the sale of a refinery by Brazil’s state-controlled oil giant was related to the jewels.
The state bank Caixa Economica Federal received the box of precious stones Friday at one of its branches in capital Brasilia, the bank’s press office told The Associated Press. A representative also turned in firearms Bolsonaro received as a gift from authorities in the United Arab Emirates, according to the federal police's press office.
A federal watchdog on Wednesday had given Bolsonaro five days to hand over the precious stones and guns that he had received while president.
Brazilian media started reporting on the set of jewels earlier this month, along with another set that was seized earlier at the international airport in Sao Paulo. The confiscated set, composed of earrings, a necklace, a ring and a watch by Swiss brand Chopard, is estimated to be worth several million dollars. Neither set was declared to tax authorities.
Documents and video footage published by local press appear to show supposed emissaries of Bolsonaro making multiple unsuccessful attempts to retrieve the seized jewelry, up until just days before the end of his presidency.
Bolsonaro, who denies any wrongdoing connected to the gifts, has been in the United States since late-December, just days before the end of his presidential term.
The gifts add to the legal jeopardy already surrounding the right-wing populist politician. He is also under investigation for any involvement in a rampage by his supporters through the national capital after he left office and for numerous actions during the presidential election campaign he lost last fall.