Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro appeared at the federal police headquarters on Wednesday to testify in an ongoing investigation into jewelry and gifts given in 2021 to him and his wife, Michelle Bolsonaro, by the king of Saudi Arabia. The incident has raised concerns over the former president’s commitment to anti-corruption measures and put his reputation at stake.
Local authorities closed the street outside the police headquarters building as Bolsonaro arrived to provide his testimony. The investigation focuses on a jewelry set valued at 16.5 million reais ($3.26 million), which was seized by customs officials in the backpack of a government aide returning from Saudi Arabia. The set was intended for then First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro.
After Brazil’s federal audit court ordered him to return two other gift packages, Bolsonaro complied. He has maintained that he did nothing wrong in receiving the gifts. However, critics argue that the gifts belong to the presidential collection and accuse the former president of attempting to evade customs duties by smuggling them into the country.
Several officials from Bolsonaro’s administration reportedly made unsuccessful attempts to recover the main jewelry present from customs at Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport, according to local media sources.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Bolsonaro’s defense team argued that his decision to hand over the gifts demonstrated his commitment to obeying the audit court’s decisions and his respect for the law. Another gift received from the United Arab Emirates—a rifle and a pistol—was handed over to the federal police as well.
Bolsonaro recently returned to Brazil after spending nearly three months in self-imposed exile in the United States following his defeat in last year’s re-election bid. As the investigation continues, the former president’s anti-corruption stance will be further scrutinized, and the outcome may have significant implications for his political future.