Brazil's ex-president Bolsonaro will be subpoenaed over jewellery scandal, says minister

Mr Jair Bolsonaro has been accused of trying to illegally bring US$3.2 million of jewellery into Brazil. PHOTO: REUTERS

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro will be called to testify as part of an investigation into accusations that he tried to illegally bring US$3.2 million (S$4.31 million) of jewellery into the country, said the country’s Justice Minister Flavio Dino on Monday.

“We have inquiries in progress, hearings taking place, and at some point, the former president will be subpoenaed,” Mr Dino told reporters after an event in Rio de Janeiro.

There was no deadline or date set for Mr Bolsonaro to be subpoenaed, the minister said, adding that if the former president – who is in self-imposed exile in the United States – fails to testify, Brazil “may or may not” seek international legal cooperation.

Luxury jewellery gifted to the then President and his wife Michelle Bolsonaro by the Saudi government was seized by Customs officials in October 2021, after it was found in the backpack of a government aide.

Several officials from the Bolsonaro administration unsuccessfully tried to recover the jewellery from Customs, according to local media.

Brazilians are allowed to bring in US$1,000 of goods or gifts, and pay hefty taxes on anything over that value.

Mr Bolsonaro has previously denied any wrongdoing.

On Monday, Mr Bolsonaro’s lawyer said in a letter to the police that the former president will deliver accounts of a second gift he received from the Saudi government to a Brazilian court.

The lawyer stressed that Mr Bolsonaro at no time “intended to enrich himself with property that could in any way be regarded as public”, also asking that the second set of jewellery be held in public custody until the conclusion of the investigation.

According to Mr Dino, police will conclude the investigation into whether Mr Bolsonaro attends a hearing.

“The deposition is an opportunity for his defence... We are facing facts that have documentary proof, images, film, officers and papers, material evidence, and there are hearings, oral evidence,” said the minister. REUTERS

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