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Bolsonaro to hand over undeclared jewels given by Saudis: report

Brazil's former president Jair Bolsonaro has said he will hand over expensive gifts from Saudi Arabia that entered the country without being declared to the tax authorities, his lawyers said
— Brasília (AFP)

Lawyers for Jair Bolsonaro say the former Brazilian president has agreed to hand over to authorities jewels gifted by Saudi Arabia and which entered the country without being declared to tax authorities, local media reported Monday.

The ex-leader has been the target of investigations by the federal police and the Brazilian tax agency since the newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo reported that tax agents seized a package of jewels in October 2021, valued at $3.2 million, inside the backpack of an official from the Ministry of Mines and Energy who was returning from an official trip to the Middle East.

The former head of the ministry, Bento Albuquerque, told the paper that a second set of jewelry, which included a watch and a pen by luxury Swiss brand Chopard, were also not declared by the government delegation at the airport.

That would mean the second package entered the country without being detected.

The former president had withheld a watch, a pen and other luxury items, alleging that they were personal gifts and that he acted within the law, according to media reports.

Bolsonaro's legal teams asked police for the items to be deposited in the care of the court "until a later decision about them," the news outlet G1 said.

A judge on Brazil's Federal Court of Accounts (TCU), which oversees the government coffers, last week ordered Bolsonaro and Albuquerque to give depositions to investigators on whether the jewels were personal presents or gifts to the nation, and why they were not properly declared.

Bolsonaro lost reelection to another four-year term in October, and has been in the US state of Florida since two days before his leftist successor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, took office on January 1, 2023.

Judge Augusto Nardes ordered Bolsonaro not to "wear, make use of or transfer ownership of any piece from the collection."