Bolsonaro denies ‘illegal acts’ over Saudi jewels; Lula government vows probe

BRAZIL’S former President Jair Bolsonaro denied committing “illegal acts” after a report that jewellery allegedly gifted by Saudi Arabia to him and his wife was brought into the South American nation without being declared to authorities.

The government of Bolsonaro’s successor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, pledged to investigate the matter.

The Saudi embassy in Brazil did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I’m being accused of a gift I neither asked for nor received,” Bolsonaro was quoted as saying in an interview with CNN Brasil. “There is no illegality on my part. I never committed illegal acts.”

Still, Lula’s aides promised that probe into the matter would be launched.

Justice Minister Flavio Dino said he would request a federal police investigation, while Paulo Pimenta, a spokesman for the leftist Brazilian president, stressed there would be no impunity.

“The evidence is robust and the truth will be out,” Pimenta said in a social media broadcast.

According to O Estado de S. Paulo, the jewels valued at 3 million euros ($3.19 million) were found by customs agents in the backpack of an aide to then-Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque who was returning from an official trip to the Middle East in October 2021.

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Agents at the Guarulhos airport in Sao Paulo seized the jewellery, as people must declare any goods worth more than $1,000 when they enter Brazil, the newspaper said, adding that the Bolsonaro administration unsuccessfully tried to recover the jewellery multiple times through government officials.

Bolsonaro is in the United States, having flown to Florida in late December, 48 hours before Lula was sworn in. He attended the CPAC conservative conference in Washington on Saturday where he was also expected to meet former U.S. President Donald Trump, his political ally.

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