As tax authorities look into a second gift of jewels, Brazil’s justice minister instructed federal police to look into claims that former president Jair Bolsonaro tried to unlawfully import $3.2 million worth of jewelry that had been sent to him by Saudi Arabia.
Since the far-right former president’s former mines and energy minister, Bento Albuquerque, was prevented by customs authorities from bringing the gems into Brazil without paying the necessary import duty after a trip on business in October 2021, suspicions about the jewels have grown.
The newspaper claims that representatives of the Bolsonaro administration intervened at least eight times to try to persuade customs officials to release the diamond jewelry that had been given to the president’s wife, including a necklace, a ring, a watch, and a pair of earrings from the Swiss luxury brand Chopard.
Bolsonaro disputes the accusations.
They are holding me responsible for a present that I neither requested nor got, from the United States, where he has been residing since two days before his socialist successor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, took office on January 1, on Saturday there was no criminality on his part.
The issue got worse on Monday when Brazil’s tax agency announced that it had launched its own inquiry into claims that Albuquerque’s team had also brought another set of jewels into the nation that had escaped detection, also a gift from the Saudi government.
In an interview with Estado de São Paulo, Albuquerque highlighted the second set of jewelry, which included a watch and a pen produced by Chopard.
“The incident could constitute a violation of customs law for failure to declare goods and pay the required duties,” the tax agency said in a statement, vowing to take “all necessary measures” to enforce the law.
In response to the minister’s request, the federal police division in Sao Paulo responsible for preventing treasury crimes stated in a note late Monday that it had also begun an inquiry into the “irregular entry” of the seized gems.
According to Brazilian media accounts, the second set of diamonds was presented to the official collection of the presidential palace on December 29, 2022.
Brazilian law mandates that anyone bringing into the nation goods worth more than $1,000 declare them.
The first family would therefore have been forced to give the jewels to the presidential palace collection as official presents to the country, or pay import duty on them that was equal to half of their worth.