A representative of the former Brazilian president appeared at a state bank with a set of diamond jewelry, following the order of a government agency.
In the midst of the scandal that could have both a political and judicial backlash, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro delivered this Friday extremely valuable diamond jewels given to him by Saudi Arabia, for which he is being investigated on suspicion of having imported them illegally.
A representative of the former president appeared at the state bank Caixa Economica Federal and left a box of precious stones at one of its branches in Brasilia, the bank’s press office told The Associated Press. A government supervisory body gave Bolsonaro five days on Wednesday to deliver the precious stones he had received when he was president.
Authorities are investigating whether these items were a public gift that Bolsonaro improperly tried to prevent from being added to the presidential collection, or a private gift that Bolsonaro tried to smuggle into Brazil without paying taxes.
The Brazilian press reported weeks ago about these jewels along with others seized at the Sao Paulo international airport. The seized jewelry, with an estimated value of several million dollars, was not declared to the tax authorities.
Bolsonaro’s former Minister of Mines and Energy Bento Albuquerque, who made an official visit to Saudi Arabia in October 2021, assured that an “envoy” from the Saudi government delivered two packages to his delegation at the end of their trip, as revealed to the newspaper O State of S.Paulo.
Back in Brazil, customs officers at the Guarulhos airport in São Paulo detected that an Albuquerque assistant was carrying one of the boxes in his backpack, without declaring it.
Officials discovered the package was filled with diamond jewelry and seized it for failure to pay required import duties.
As can be seen in video surveillance images broadcast by local TV, the former minister assured that the jewels were destined for the first lady Michelle Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro’s administration reportedly tried at least eight times to convince customs inspectors to release the jewels, with one last attempt on the penultimate day of his mandate.
The second package evaded customs control and was delivered to Bolsonaro, who would have kept it, according to Albuquerque.
Bolsonaro reacted in the first days of the scandal: “They are accusing me of a gift that I did not ask for, nor did I receive. There is no illegality on my part,” he told CNN Brazil.
Both packages contained jewelry from the luxurious Swiss brand Chopard.
In the first was a necklace, a ring, a watch and a pair of earrings, valued at $3.2 million.
The second contained a watch, a ring, a pen, a pair of cufflinks and a rosary, a set estimated at $75,000 according to Brazilian media.
The former president, who is in the United States, where he has lived since Lula da Silva took office on January 1, announced that he will return to Brazil next Thursday, according to the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper.