Ex-Brazil president Bolsonaro is hoarding a stash of jewels Saudi Arabia gave him — but was just ordered to give them away
Brazil's watchdog ordered former President Jair Bolsonaro to hand over valuable jewels.
He received the gift on a trip to Saudi Arabia, and another stash was seized by customs.
Bolsonaro faces investigations over his retention of the valuable gems.
A Brazilian government watchdog gave former President Jair Bolsonaro five days to hand over a stash of valuable jewels he received from Saudi Arabia and decided to keep.
The watchdog panel, which oversees government finances, voted unanimously to order Bolsonaro to hand the jewels over to a state-run bank, the Associated Press reported.
It is another ethical pitfall for Bolsonaro, a far-right leader often compared to Donald Trump. Bolsonaro tested the limits of Brazilian democracy while in power, and for a time seemed like he may reject the results of the election he lost.
The watchdog's investigation was sparked by reports in Brazilian media that customs officials discovered a stash of jewellery worth around $3.2 million in the backpack of an official from the Ministry of Mines and Energy who was returning from an official trip to the Middle East in October 2021.
The jewellery, which contained a watch, matching earrings and a ring, was said to be a gift from the Saudi government for Bolsonaro and his wife, Michelle.
Brazilian police are investigating whether Bolsonaro broke the law in trying to bring the jewels into the country without declaring them to customs.
It later emerged that a second stash of jewels, valued at around $75,000, also entered the country undetected, and were in Bolsonaro's possession. It is this this second stash that the watchdog has ordered Bolsonaro to hand back, reports say.
Bolsonaro has denied wrongdoing, saying he was unaware the jewellery seized at customs was intended for him and promising to explain the second batch of jewels, reports say. (Details of that explanation have not been made public.)
The watchdog plans to audit all of the gifts Bolsonaro received as president, and has also ordered him to hand over guns he received as a gift in the UAE to be kept by the presidential museum in Brasilia, the AP said.
Bolsonaro currently lives in Florida, having left Brazil after his defeat in the 2022 presidential election to left-wing Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Echoing his ally Donald Trump, Bolsonaro refused to concede defeat in the election.
He faces a slew of investigations, including allegations he sought to stir up supporters to attack government buildings on January 8 as part of a bid to cling onto power.
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